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Archive for February, 2010

e’ve lost the brakes!” Old Henry yelled over the rattle and shaking and hissing of steam coming from the big locomotive. “You boys jump! Hurry! Get offa’ the train. Get offa’ the train! Now!”

Those were the words the engineer, Henry Jones, yelled out to the fireman and brakeman with him in the cab of the locomotive pulling the long train of railroad cars loaded with logs. The runaway train was traveling down Yale Hill at an ever-increasing speed.

Warren and I drove along that afternoon, with me sharing with him the story about the runaway on the old Yale Hill. I paused for a few moments, picturing that speeding train barreling down the tracks as they wound through the forested mountains. Warren was obviously becoming a bit impatient and he finally asked me, “Well, what happened?”

Hmm. Do you remember what happened on the night that Jesus went to the cross? Do you remember what his closest friends did? You remember Peter; old Peter the Rock. Oh, sure. Peter, the one who said he would even die with Jesus if he needed to. Oh, yes. Sure, you remember. Peter and the rest of them—they all ran out on Jesus. He was left on his own. I guess we might say Jesus stayed with a “runaway train,” while his friends jumped off.

That crowd surrounding Jesus had gotten out of hand, hadn’t they? They had gone berserk. They wanted to kill Jesus and for no good reason other than, if we are to tell the truth, for fear that He would outshine them. They didn’t need to fear that. He already had outshined them! They didn’t have a chance.

Anyway, all the disciples “jumped from the train,” so to speak. Jesus stayed on. Because He stuck with it, you and I now have the hope of heaven. We can look death square in the face and say, “I’m ready for you, buster!” Eternity no longer holds the fear it might have, because of what Jesus did for us.

But, now I suppose you are wondering what happened to that runaway on the Yale Hill. Well, Old Henry Jones stayed with the train. He didn’t jump off. He kept pulling on the brake, and doing everything he could, hoping to slow the incredible weight of that long trainload of log cars behind him. That old locomotive was bouncing up and down and from side to side. What a sight it must have been. Finally, it approached that last corner, the big one, where the tracks finally straightened out and leveled out as the railroad approached the river and the rails went out onto the trestle that crossed over that slow-moving stream.

I imagine Old Henry’s heart was really thumping by that time. But he had made up his mind. He was not going to jump. He stuck with it and, you know something, that big black locomotive stayed on the tracks as it careened around that last curve. As the long train finally straightened out after crossing the river Old Henry was finally able to begin slowing it down and before long, he brought it to a stop. He hadn’t lost a flatcar or even a single log, from what he could tell. All that was missing were the fireman, the brakeman, and the conductor and a couple other fellows who had been in the caboose. Henry sat and waited till they had walked all the way down the hill to the train and, once they were all back on board, he took them on into the station.

Two things happened that changed Old Henry Jones’s life as a result of that wild ride that day. First, everyone began to call him Casey. No longer was he Old Henry Jones. He was Casey Jones! And second, the company was so appreciative they gave Old Henry, I mean Casey, a passenger run which was much nicer than the logging trains. He stayed on that route till he retired.

Yep. The Yale Hill runaway.

You know something. At least 2 things happened as a result of Jesus sticking with God’s plan and going to the cross. First, because of what He did, for us, we can each be called a Child of God—a Christian—that person who has whispered a prayer and asked Jesus to forgive them of their sins and asked Him to come into their hearts.

And second, as a result of that first Easter, we all have the promise of the resurrection and life for all eternity, with Him! We can live with the assurance that we will live again—really live! Forever! It doesn’t end here. When this “ride” is over we will be brought to a safe stop in Heaven if we have Jesus in our hearts.

Prayer: Oh, my, Lord. Fill me with the necessary courage to always stay on track with you as I travel through this life. Thank you for all you have done, and continue to do, for me. In Jesus 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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It’s been some time ago that I was visiting relatives in an area of the Idaho Panhandle not too far from where I grew up. I began to think about that little town which had such an impact on my life during my years of adolescence, and I asked my son-in-law, Warren, if he would like to go for a ride with me. It would be nice to get out of the house for a while.

Several hours later we were winding along narrow mountain roads and the scenes around me caused a multitude of memories to flood my mind. When I was a boy and we drove along that same road the surface had been gravel and you didn’t dare follow anyone too close because of the cloud of dust which chased along behind each car and truck bouncing along what we called the washboard surface. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. It was the kind of road where the rows of bumps would bounce your car around as if it had a mind all of its own! Now, I hate to have to tell you this, but the road is paved, now. Even the folks who live up in that hill country have gone modern. You really have to get off the beaten path now, to get the kind of road we were driving on when I was a kid. Oh, well. And now they have straightened out a bunch of the curves which has made it even less exciting to drive on.

As Warren and I drove along on this particular day the sky was overcast and the clouds lay close to the tops of the mountains around us. It wasn’t real cold, but it wasn’t real warm, either! We came to a spot the local folks referred to as the Yale Hill. I asked Warren if he had ever heard the story about the runaway on Yale Hill. He gave me kind of an odd look, “Runaway? What do you mean runaway?” he said.

Now I should tell you that Warren had been working as a counselor in a children’s home where they had—well—runaways. But it was a different kind of runaway I was talking about on this particular day and I knew I had him by the way he looked at me and asked, “What do you mean runaway?”

Ah, yes. I knew I had him now, and I began to tell him about the runaway on Yale Hill. It happened back in the 30’s at a point along this particular highway where the railroad passes through a cut in the mountains and, for a brief time, follows alongside the roadway, the same highway we were now driving on. The old steam locomotives used to pull long lines of heavily laden flat cars loaded with logs, on their way to the sawmill, up the backside of the hill and then stop at the top where the ground became level for a short distance. This was the place called Yale Hill.

It was right at this point on the railroad where it made a turn, away from the highway, and began winding down a long, long hill, with many curves, several miles in length.

Old Henry Jones was the engineer that afternoon as the lumbering old steam locomotive screeched to a stop at the top of the hill and the two brakemen, along with the help of the conductor, all who had been riding in the caboose, began to move along the line of cars to check to make sure all of the air lines for the brakes were set properly. Finally, the conductor signaled to Old Henry that they were ready to move and the engineer released the brakes and opened the throttle to get the long train started down the hill.

Smoke began to pour out of the smokestack atop the train engine’s boiler as the chug, chug-chug-chug began to smooth out as the train began move more rapidly.

The train began to gain speed as it dropped further over the top of the hill, and began heading down the long grade towards the river. The fireman and the brakeman stuck their heads out into the wind, enjoying the freshness of the cool breeze after having ridden the slowly crawling train up the back side of the mountain. The cab of that old locomotive could get downright hot on a day like that.

Old Henry pulled back on the throttle and as the train began to pick up speed and he reached for the long brake handle and began to pull back on it. Suddenly, old Henry began to get a look of concern on his face. He had released the throttle and was pulling back on that large steel brake handle. But something was wrong. The train wasn’t slowing down. In fact, its speed continued to increase. Old Henry had hold of the brake handle with both hands, pulling back with all his might, but it did no good. The big black locomotive was being pushed faster and faster by the long line of heavily-laden railroad flat cars loaded high with logs.

“We’ve lost the brakes!” Old Henry yelled over the rattle and shaking and hissing of steam coming from the big locomotive. “You boys jump! Hurry! Get offa’ the train. Get offa’ the train! Now!”

You see, there was a long sweeping curve at the bottom of the hill where the tracks came around a bend, traveled across a long trestle over a river, and then began to straighten out as the grade leveled out, as well. Once a train reached a certain speed it could not make that last turn.

With hardly a second glance the brakeman and the fireman scrambled to the door of the cab and down the ladder, trying to see in the rush of wind whipping at their faces if there was any kind of a soft spot they might land. But the train wasn’t waiting for them to make up their minds. It continued to gain speed, traveling faster and faster. First one of the men went and then the other. Henry didn’t get to see the men flying head over heels into the weeds and brush along the tracks. His attention was focuses straight ahead. Henry was all alone in the cab of the locomotive now. The noise was incredible and his heart was beating like everything. Should he jump or should he stay on board? He had been pulling the chain for the whistle to let the boys back in the caboose know they had a runaway so they could get off. Old Henry wondered if they were still there.

Hmm. I wonder if those guys in the cab with Old Henry asked him if he was going to jump with them. Why wouldn’t he? If the train’s brakes were not working and you didn’t know if it would make that curve at the bottom—shouldn’t you jump off with the others?

I have no idea whether or not Henry was a Christian. If he was, a verse he could have claimed that day were from words that the Apostle Paul spoke in his letter to the church at Philippi. In Philippians 1:20 he wrote: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

What do you think; would that have been a good verse for Henry? Well, I wonder if it isn’t a good verse for all who claim to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

Prayer: Lord, please instill within me the courage to live my life in such a manner that I will never have to fear being ashamed when I stand before you at the end of this life. May I always be ready to share the reason for the hope that I have. In Jesus 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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DUST AND DIRTY DISHES

I imagine a good many of you have brothers or sisters or both. But let me tell you about mine—my brother, anyway—for a few moments.

My brother was a "rat!" At least that is what I often thought as I was growing up with what I saw as the terrible burden of having an older sister who was always bossing me around, coupled with the near atrocity of a younger brother who always seemed to get his way. The way I saw things, not only was he a rat, he was a spoiled rat!

Have any of you ever been in a similar spot as you were growing up? Hey! Some of you know exactly what I am talking about.

It seems that when you are in the middle of a family, many times, you become the forgotten one—until it’s time for some very unpleasant task such as chores, of course!

You would not believe some of the bum raps I seemed to get when the daily chores were passed out. My little brother would get the easy job of sweeping off the front and back porches of our home, for example. He would be out in that nice, clean, fresh air where he would make sure he took plenty of time so that he would not be given any additional tasks to complete just in case he finished sooner than our mother might have expected. And he did not do good job, either!

For some reason, the porches never seemed to come under the close scrutiny that some of the jobs I was given received—like when I had to sweep our living room floor and then dust the furniture afterwards.

My mother seemed to have eyesight that would make an astronaut jealous. If I missed even a speck of dust on the piano, she found it! And if I happened to miss dusting off a leg of the coffee table I had made for her—that’s right, it had been a gift to her from me—she could spot the dust on that small skinny leg from the other side of the next room! I still don’t know how she did that!

And doing dishes was always another great frustration in my life. We did not have such a thing as a built in dishwasher—(sometimes I may have felt that way, but . . . ) You see, we did not have running water in the home in which I grew up. That kind of thing was for "city slickers," you understand. We had a wood kitchen range upon which a large "boiler", as we called it, continually heated water for the various kitchen chores.

On a regular basis, especially when my sister supposedly had something to do she just could not give up, my brother and I would end up doing the dishes. It always seemed to happen on a night when we had something for dinner that stuck like cement to everything it touched, from the pan it was cooked in to the plates it was eaten from, as well as on every piece of silverware and utensil which might have touched it. This was long before the days of things like "Teflon" and "PAM," you see.

And it was always on evenings like this that I would end up having to wash the dishes! You see, on the flat surface of that wood-burning kitchen range we were required to place two large, round metal pans. One pan was for the rinse water and one was for the soapy water in which the dishes were washed. Whoever did the washing part had to have their hands buried in that soapy water throughout the job. Your hands showed it afterwards. In fact, for a young boy, it was almost embarrassing.

Your hands always came out kind of "pinkish" looking with a lot of little wrinkles in them. And there was no way you could keep any dirt under your fingernails that "tough" guys always had! It was downright humiliating, let me tell you! But, it was not the same for the guy—usually my little brother—who got to rinse the dishes.

That individual, because the water was always kept so hot, used a long wooden spoon or some other utensil to dip into the steaming water and bring out the items which had just been washed. They were then placed into a drain rack where they dried on their own.

In looking back, I suppose I really did not have to wash those blasted dishes many more times than my brother. But, as a young boy, it sure did seem like. Having had my suspicions confirmed by other boys who had to live with younger brothers, I was certain that little brothers always got the best deal. And if you were so unfortunate as to have an older sister—oh my! That was really tough, let me tell you!

Now folks, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about what I have been saying. It may have seemed like my parents were ruthless rulers of our roost where I, the poor, unfortunate guy caught in the middle, was always feeling the rough edge of life. I think most of you realize that this was probably not the case. I was just a young boy growing up with an older sister and a younger brother, and my life was unfortunately tainted by the order in which I had been born into the family!

A good many of you have been in a predicament similar to mine. You can relate, as they say.

So, what am I getting at in describing some of the rougher aspects of my childhood in this manner? Let’s look at what the Apostle Paul is saying as he closes his letter to the Philippian Church. In chapter 4, verse 11-13, he includes these remarks: “……I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. . . . I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. . . . . I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Hmm. Maybe my mother should have had me memorizing those verses when I was dusting or doing the dishes as a boy, huh?

Prayer: Father, forgive me for my complaining when things really are just not that bad. Please, Lord, give me a spirit like the Apostle Paul had where I will truly be content in any and every situation. In Jesus 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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PRAYER AND BUGS

Dr. John Maxwell, in his book Partners in Prayer, relates the following story:

In the summer of 1876, grasshoppers nearly destroyed the crops in the state of Minnesota. So in the spring of 1877, the farmers were worried. They believed that the dreadful plague would once again visit them and again destroy the rich wheat crop, bringing ruin to thousands of people.

The situation was so serious that Governor John S. Pillsbury proclaimed April 26 as a day of prayer and fasting (Can you see that happening today—the governor of one of our states proclaiming a particular day as a day of prayer and fasting for that entire state?). Well, the Governor Pillsbury urged every man, woman, and child in the State of Minnesota to ask God to prevent the terrible scourge. On that April day all schools, shops, stores, and offices were closed (I need to ask it again; can you see that happening today?) There was a reverent, quiet hush over the entire state. You know, that must really have been an awesome thing!

The very next day dawned bright and clear. Temperatures soared to what they ordinarily would be in midsummer, which was very peculiar for April. The people of Minnesota were devastated as they discovered billions of grasshopper larvae wiggling to life. For three days the unusual heat persisted, and the larvae hatched. It appeared that it wouldn’t be long before they started feeding and destroying the wheat crop.

On the fourth day, however, the temperature suddenly dropped, and that night frost covered the earth. It killed every one of those creeping, crawling pests as surely as if poison or fire had been used. Grateful farmers never forgot that day. It wend down in the history of Minnesota as the day God answered the prayers of the people.

That event in Minnesota over 130 years ago shows what can happen when people are willing to pray, not only for themselves, but for others.

Friends, it is on occasions such as this when prayer becomes exciting! You can actually see prayers being answered. You can see lives change, and that’s the greatest joy of praying for others.

Near the end of the Old Testament we find the book of Habakkuk. The prophet begins by praying with these words in Verse 2: “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?”

Wow! Talk about not beating around the bush and clearly expressing how you feel—Habakkuk was really laying things out in the open! I wonder if some of those farmers in Minnesota, back there in 1877, were doing the same thing—just simply being open and honest with the Lord about their situation.

What is really neat about Habakkuk’s prayer is that he doesn’t go on for very long before the Lord answers him. Here is what He says, beginning in Verse 5: “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

Again, I have to say it—wow! I wonder what Habakkuk thought when God spoke those words to him. Maybe he went home from the temple to his wife and said, “Honey, you are not going to believe what just happened!”

Why is that we are often surprised when God answers our prayers? I wonder if we should not promote the habit of praying expectantly—and pray that way consistently. Whether we are praying for someone we care about to come to know the Lord, or maybe we are praying about a new job, or a child who is seriously ill, or a major decision we are facing—or maybe even praying about bugs—let’s pray fully expecting that God is going to hear and respond to our prayers. Hey! He may not always answer exactly as we might have planned, but He will answer when His children pray. Sure He will!

Prayer: Father, help me to be open and honest when I pray to you. And help me to pray expectantly, with an ever-growing faith in my Lord and the knowledge that He hears me when I pray—and He answers! In Jesus 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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By the time I had reached the ripe old of 8 years old, I had decided that I did not want to have anything to do with ranching. And the thought of farming just made me shiver all over. No. There had to be something better in life for this kid, I had decided. Yesiree!

Why did I have such an outlook on the possibility of becoming a rancher or a farmer? Well, let me share a few things with you.

First of all there was the barnyard that belonged to our family. It was a small square piece of property with a little barn setting in the middle of it. Now barns are probably all right for some people a good share of the time. And I guess ours was like that. We had a hay loft we boys could climb up into and we could jump down onto a large pile of hay on the bottom floor. That was a lot of fun—climbing up that rickety old ladder and daring each other to "go ahead and jump." We always wanted to see who could jump out the farthest. And I kind of liked the smell of the hay and the grain and so on. Yes, there were some good things about barns for a young boy.

But there were also some things about barns that were not so good. Barns need cleaned out once in a while, especially if you have any livestock. And we did. Oh, my, yes, we did! And since that was the case someone had to be cleaning out the barn on a regular basis and my Dad seemed to think it was a reasonable task to ask a young boy help out with. Hah! I used to wonder what he would think if he were a little boy my age. Barns are no fun to clean out, let me tell you!

Then there was Speck. That’s right, Speck. Speck was an old Jersey milk cow we had. It was because of her that we boys had to clean out the barn, you see. Speck was a gentle thing, especially around young boys like my little brother and me. In fact, when my Dad would be taking her out of the barnyard and over to a pasture where he would graze her on some open land, it was not a bit unusual for Dad to allow one of us boys to get up on her back and ride along.

Now Speck was a pretty good old cow to ride on, as long as Dad had hold of the halter he had placed on her. But, if he dropped that rope for any reason, you better look out. That is when old Speck liked to take off at a trot and she could give you a real ride. She could give you a real ride if you were able to stay on, that is, which was not usually the case—at least not for very long.

There was something else about old Speck you had to be watchful of. If you went around in back of her she had a habit of trying to slap you alongside the head with her tail. Say, now, that old Jersey really had a long tail, and she was pretty accurate with it a good share of the time. And if her tail did not get you, the edge of a hoof was liable to.

Now I don’t think Speck ever tried to hurt anyone on purpose, it was just that she was a cow, no matter what her name or her disposition. And from what I have seen, cows can be unpredictable with their tails and with their hoofs. You have got to be careful around them.

Now, for some reason, Old Speck did not seem to bother my Dad by trying to switch her tail in his face or kicking him. And you would have thought he would be the first to catch it because he walked around back of her so very close. In fact, he would rest one hand upon her back as he walked around to the other side of her and she never seemed to bother him a bit. And I noticed after awhile that he was talking to her most of the time he was around her. I used to wonder why in the world someone would ever want to talk to a cow—cows can’t talk back! Or at least people don’t talk cow language, from what I saw!

Well, a while back I got to thinking how people are kind of like cows, sometimes. Yes, they really are! Have you ever found someone who you thought would make a good friend but for some reason they became angry or upset with you and if they had had a tail they would have been trying to switch you in the face with it?

Have you ever had someone who mistreated you to the point that you felt as if you had been kicked in the side? Have you ever had some kind of contact with a person who, when they left you, you felt as if you were hurting all over? Have you ever had to clean up after someone else who had made a mess of the “barn”?

Did you know that God talked about cows in the Bible? Yes he did. The word "cattle" is listed 157 times in a copy of the Bible I have.

In fact, in the Old Testament, in 2 Samuel, there is a story about a couple of milk cows that were hitched to a cart and pulled it and it carried the ark of the Lord that is often spoken of in the OT.

The number of cattle you had was an indication of how much you were worth. Cattle were frequently spoken of along with valuables of other kinds such as gold and jewels. Think about that, a moment . . . . , cattle being considered as something of value like gold . . . and jewels.

But there was something of far more worth than an old cow, or even a piece of jewelry. You know what that was? A person! Yes, a man or a woman was far more important to God than any old cow–or a thousand cows.

In Revelation 2, verses 9 & 10, we read, "I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! . . . Be faithful, . . . . and I will give you the crown of life."

Be faithful…..even when someone hurts you, when they slap you with their “tail,” or when someone kicks you, or when you have to clean out the “barn.” Yes, be faithful.

Prayer: Lord, give me the strength to always remain faithful to You, even during the trying times I will experience in life. Please help me not to strike back when someone hurts me, but help me to react as Jesus would. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus 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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