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Archive for March, 2010

I was standing in a dimly lit room near the back of our church, after the close of a religious drama production in which I had held a part. I had been cast as one of the twelve disciples and was wearing the appropriate dress for that role. A young woman, accompanied by a small boy who appeared to be about three or four years old, came into the room and walked towards a door on the opposite wall. As they began to walk past me, the boy suddenly tugged at his Mother’s hand and pulled her aside, walking over to where I was standing.

"Hey Mister!" he said, looking up at me, "Have you seen Jesus?"

I realized he was looking for the man who had played the part of Jesus and I pointed towards another doorway and said, "I believe he is in the next room. You might go look."

As the youngster and his Mother walked away the impact of his question began to sink in . . . . . . "Have you seen Jesus?"

Easter is one of those times each year when even those who may have little involvement with church and/or religion tend to consider the possibility that it might be a good idea to attend a church service somewhere.

I have a relative who never attends church who concedes that some of the things which have touched his life and that of his family must be a result of action on the part of "the Man upstairs."

I do not recall having ever heard this relative refer to this "Man upstairs," as God, or Jesus, but it goes without question that this is certainly what he means. If I were to ask him, "Have you seen Jesus?" I am fearful he would say he had not.

Far too many people go through life giving absolutely no consideration to a Living God except when they find themselves in a crisis or a time of great need. When they discover themselves at a point in life where the skills and abilities of we humans are no longer of value that is when many people find themselves forced to look outside and beyond themselves. They find they must ask someone, maybe a friend or a relative, the question, "Have you seen Jesus?"

At Easter, many are fortunate in that they can look back on their lives and say they "found" Jesus early in life. They realize, with hearts full of thanksgiving and gratitude, what it has been like to walk through the twisted and often tortuous paths of life with Jesus Christ active and alive within their very own hearts.

There are others who came to know Jesus Christ later in life and who have experienced the weight of heavy burdens removed from the heart and soul. They have turned their lives over to a Living God, giving Him control, and experiencing the reality of the peace that comes when He walks with them every step of the way through life.

But others are still looking for Jesus. They are still searching. Maybe, just maybe, you are one of those who is searching and yearning to know this Jesus. Can I suggest that He is closer than you think and if you truly desire to find Him, you can! He reminds us, in the Gospel of John, in verse 10, that he came to earth almost 2000 years ago for but one purpose: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Have you seen Jesus?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for providing each of us with the gift of real life, if we will only ask you for it. Thank you for the promise that we can have life—real life—and live it to the fullest. Thank you for the gift of your Son on the cross for me. In the Name of Jesus 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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GOD AND MODEL T FORDS

My dad was once telling me about a period of time when he was a young boy, growing up on a farm which was located on top of one of the higher hills in the farming and mountainous area in which he grew up. He said that visitors came often to their home. They would begin to hear the sounds of an automobile laboring up the long hill from the county road, long before the point when it would actually come into view. During the hot summer months they knew that, by the time it arrived in front of the farmhouse, the radiator would be boiling over.

Dad said he could remember his mother exclaiming, “Here they come, right at supper time, and I have nothing to cook!

I don’t suppose any of our readers have ever uttered a statement similar to that, right?

Dad said my grandmother would start to scurry around, complaining that she guessed she would have to “make do.” She would begin by going to the chicken yard where a flock of “biddies” would come running to her, expecting to be fed. She would grab one by the leg and then take the head in her other hand and before the chicken knew what had happened its neck had been wrung and it had begun the journey towards the frying pan waiting in the kitchen. It didn’t even have time to let out a squawk!

While it was still flapping about on the ground she would have fetched a bucket from the back porch and directed the owner of the just-arrived Model T Ford to drain the cars radiator into it. When the pail was full she would dowse the chicken in the hot, scalding water and moments later was busily plucking the feathers from the bird.

Then grandma would take the chicken to the kitchen, drop it on the table near the old woodstove, and make a dash to the garden where she would pick corn, peas and cucumbers as she went along. On the way back through the garden she would unearth a hill of new potatoes. By the time she arrived back at the house her apron was full of produce. While the guests began shelling peas and peeling potatoes, Grandma would cut up the chicken, roll the pieces in a mix of flour, and place them in an old black cast iron skillet on the wood kitchen range in which a hot and blazing fire was burning. Before long the pleasant aroma of chicken frying was wafting out across the front porch and into the yard causing mouths to water among all those present.

My dad made the statement when relating this account to me, “It is no wonder my folks had so many visitors. They had a feast any time they came!” But keep in mind that Grandmother “had nothing to cook!”

We often go through life with an attitude similar to that of my Grandmother. We have nothing to fix, nothing to wear, nothing to eat, and on and on. Yet, the Bible reminds us in Matthew 6:25-30, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

Do you find yourself at a point of need in your life, this week? Why not consider your situation in light of the truths of this portion of scripture? God truly does take care of His own! And allow me to encourage you to worship at a church near you this next Sunday—it’s Easter! You will be glad you did.

Prayer: Father in Heaven, thank You that I can live with the very real assurance that when my life on this earth comes to an end, it’s not the end! I will join You in heaven for all of eternity. Thank You, Father.. 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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OPINIONS…….

“I wonder if the opinions of the Christian

should not always be shaped by God?” 

– Paraphrase of a statement by Pastor Krist Wilde, Capital Christian Center, Boise, ID.

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SPEED HEALING

I had a great uncle whom I do not recall ever having had the opportunity of meeting. But I heard about him! My Great Uncle George has been gone many years now. I heard my mother tell various stories about him over the years but not until recently did one come to light which reminded me of how we humans are so wrapped up in a concern for our health.

We don’t like to be sick. We fear illness. The thought of being incapacitated by some dreadful disease will make us tremble. In fact, staying well, and getting well if we get sick, has an extremely high rating on the average person’s list of priorities, or so it would seem. If you are skeptical about that, simply take a trip to your favorite drug store and pause to look over the selection of medications available to keep you well. And if you should become ill, perish the thought, there are far more medications available to get you up and going again than you ever imagined possible.

And you really have no need for a pharmacy unless your family physician should become involved in treating an ailment you have with prescription medicine. No, you can get what you need at your favorite grocery store, deli or at the cashier’s stand at some restaurants. And, let me tell you now, you have such a wide choice of brands that your head will “swim” as you try to figure out if you should get the daytime pill, the nighttime capsule, or the 24-hour time release tablet! And that is just for starters! Then they have to throw in those generic brands which seem to be nearly the same as well-known medications but at a much cheaper price.

I have learned that, if at all possible, I allow my wife to do the shopping for medications in our family. I can’t stand the stress! Life is too tough on a person without the added anxiety resulting from having to deal with medicine selection. I find myself beginning to be overcome by a cloud of apprehension, along with a shortness of breath, the moment I turn the shopping cart down the “remedies” aisle at my favorite grocery store! I suspect that there will soon be a required course in our public schools dealing with how to choose nonprescription medicines, so that our youngsters will not enter adulthood unprepared to make the proper choices from the staggering selections with which they will be confronted.

But, back to my Uncle George. He lived at a time when things were much simpler. Medicinal choices available could not even come close to matching today’s wide and varied selections. And Uncle George became ill. Bad. He became so sick that he determined he must consult the local doctor and that is just what he did. The doctor sent him home with a bottle of medicine accompanied with careful instructions on the dosage and how often each day he should take it.

Now, I’m sure most folks would have figured my Uncle George a pretty sensible individual. And he probably would have agreed from what I have learned about him. But on this particular occasion he stretched the idea of common sense to the point it nearly killed him. Inasmuch as he was a “sensible” man, and being aware that each dose of the medication would aid him on his pathway to recovery, he presumed he would get well a whole lot quicker if he simply took the whole bottle at once. So he did. . . . . . And he nearly died! You must remember they did not have the multitude of printed warnings on everything from plastic bags to hammer handles and of course, medications, like they do today. Uncle George wanted to get well fast. He did not like feeling ill and being tied down at home. It would seem he may have been a man of little patience. He wanted speedy healing, as it were.

Oh, we can be an impatient people! Yet, the Bible provides us with numerous occasions where we are reminded of our need for patience. For example, Psalm 27 ends with the following words from verse 14: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”[i]

Commenting on this verse, the theologian Matthew Henry stated, “Those who wait upon the Lord have reason to be of good courage.”

As you have been walking along this journey through life have you learned to do so at the “prescribed” pace, with necessary and valuable times of waiting on the Lord? Have you claimed those truths wrapped up in Psalm 27? I pray you have.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me not to become impatient with You, and the journey I am traveling through this life. Remind me that there are occasions when I need to step aside, as it were, and wait on You. Help me in this matter of waiting, Lord. In the Name of Jesus 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 still brings a smile to my face when I think about it. My family and I were on vacation, traveling along the Pacific Coast, when we began to slow down on the outskirts of a small community the highway passed through. A sign stood at one point where a road turned off the highway and a sign with an arrow stated simply “CEMETERY.”

But then another sign a few feet further on that road caught my attention. It was obviously placed there for people who were not familiar with this part of the country. It stated “DEAD END.”

So, there it was. Quite a message these two signs, standing only a few feet apart, so clearly stated: “CEMETERY – DEAD END.”

My only regret after laughingly pointing the signs out to my wife was that I did not turn around, go back, and take a photograph of the signs and the road that wound up the hill away from the highway to the local cemetery.

I can’t help but think those two signs, placed together as they were, must have brought many comments from the passing public as they observed them relaying their message to all who passed that way.

There is actually a stark truth in the meaning behind those signs. Sadly, many of the folks we rub shoulders with each day are traveling through life on a dead end street. They have no hope beyond the grave. They see life as ending abruptly at the gates of the cemetery.

Yet, for that person who has invited Jesus Christ into their heart and life there is no threat or fear associated with such signs. In fact, we could probably say that the second sign could be changed for the Christian to read “TO BE CONTINUED.” Hey! I like that. Can’t you see the signs now?. . . . . . . . ”CEMETERY – TO BE CONTINUED.”

My wife and I recently moved to a new community. And you would never guess where we live—next to a cemetery! In fact, when we are giving folks directions to our home we tell them, “Just follow the signs to the cemetery!” And I guess we would have to tell them that we live on a dead end street. You must drive out the same way you drove in. That is, if you leave! But there are a number of Christians who live around us and even though we all live on what folks would say is a “dead end” street; we all know and understand that, because of Jesus Christ and His mercy, we are actually on a “highway to heaven.” When we come to the end of this earthly life, the rest of the story begins!

In 1 Peter 1:3-4, we find the following words of encouragement: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you,” . . . . . . . and for the Christian that means “Cemetery ahead…..To be continued!”

Prayer: Father in Heaven, thank You that I can live with the very real assurance that when my life on this earth comes to an end, it’s not the end! I will join You in heaven for all of eternity. Thank You, Father.. 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 was a beautiful morning and the more I thought about spending the day at work, the less appealing it seemed. By noon my mind was made up. If the boss didn’t object I was going to take the rest of the day off. I wasn’t going to miss out on this good weather!

My boss told me to go for it and I left the Forest Service building where I had been working, picked up my wife, and we headed for the mountains. After an enjoyable afternoon I returned home to words similar to this: “You don’t know what you missed—you should have been here!”

Even after all these years I still remember, and it pains me! Had I continued to work that afternoon, rather than enjoying a lazy time out in the hills somewhere, I would have been one of two fellows who were selected to fly to Alaska and spend two weeks in that rugged and beautiful state, with all expenses paid! Since I had made the decision to take the afternoon off, another individual was chosen to make the trip in my place.

All of us have had occasions when we have learned about something which took place where we might have been present, but for any number of reasons, we missed it. Sometimes it is not of our own choosing but, far too often, it surely is. The more we learned about whatever it was we had missed, the more we regretted not having been present.

That can happen occasionally when it comes to attending church—especially in the spring. We awaken on a Sunday morning that is absolutely beautiful and we suddenly realize that our morning is “tied up,” as we need to go to church. Oh, how we wish this was Saturday rather than Sunday. Then we get to thinking how faithful we have been over the months, rarely missing a Sunday unless we were sick or out of town, and we finally decide there is nothing wrong with missing just one day. Besides, we really need to rest. And so we climb into our “grubbies,” load the picnic cooler and the wife, the kids and the dog into the car, and head for our favorite picnic area for the day. We are going to relax and…….we are not going to feel guilty about it!

Sunday evening we have returned home tired, a little sunburned, but glad we took the day off—until the phone rings.

“Hey, are you guys alright? We didn’t see you in church this morning. Say, you really missed it. Of all the Sunday mornings you should have been in church—this was it, brother!”

And what follows is an in-depth description of the wonderful church service that all those who were present—and not out enjoying the sunshine—had the privilege of experiencing. From what you are told it was one of those days where, at the end of the service and as you walked out the door, you knew you had been standing on “holy ground.” It was one of those mornings when it was obvious to everyone present that the Lord was near—you could feel His presence. It was one of those times that warms your heart, strengthens your faith, and convinces you most assuredly of God’s love for you. You leave church knowing that you will never, ever be quite the same having been touched by His holy hand! …………….. But you chose that morning to miss church and enjoy the outdoors.

In Matthew 8:3 we find these words: “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. . . . ‘Be clean!’[Jesus said.] Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.”

We find words similar to this throughout the Bible. We must recognize that when the Lord touches people they are changed! Don’t miss out! Be careful when it comes to being absent from church. There are occasions when we must be away—but let’s not become careless and miss out! I pray you will experience the blessed touch of God upon your life in the days ahead.

Prayer: Oh, Father, I want to be experiencing your presence whenever I can. I want to know your touch on my life. I pray that you will guide and direct every step of my journey in such a way that I never have to hear the words from someone, “You should have been there.” Don’t allow me to permit “things” to get in the way, or take away from time spent with you. 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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I needed to get a better look at the map I had found moments earlier. I swung a leg over the log beam I was sitting on, so both legs were on the same side, and jumped out and dropped to the floor. I hit with a thud, creating a new cloud of dust, but I was still clutching my “find” in my hands. I walked out the door of the cabin and onto the porch. Say, this fresh air was nice after all the dust that we had stirred up moving around inside.

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I sat down on the steps leading off the porch to the ground and began to look more closely at the map I had found hidden away in the large crack on top the log. Boy, oh boy! This map looked like the real thing. It looked as if it had been drawn out on white paper at one time but was now yellowed with age. It had a few small tears on a couple of the edges and wrinkled up a somewhat, and seemed to be a bit fragile. But it was an authentic, hand-made map that is for sure! What a find!

Now that I had decent light I was able to see the names and places on the map more clearly. And there it was, the Carico Mine! The map showed it to be northwest of the top of Gold Hill, this mountain top we were presently on, and it showed the mine to be at the headwaters, or upper reaches of Gold Creek. I began to wonder, how a person could actually go about getting to the mine. Would there be a road, a trail, or would you have to follow the creek? The map did not have very clear-cut directions to the mine—only showing its approximate location.

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It must have been about this time that one of my companions noticed I was looking at something closely and asked me what I had. I began to smile at him and replied, “Well, you’re not going to believe what I just found in the cabin. Come take a look at this.”

Within moments the other boys were crowded around me, trying to get a look at the map, as I told them where I had found it. Then I pointed out the Carico Mine shown on the map. That brought several remarks from the group like: “You gotta’ be kiddin’ me!”, “No way!”, and “That can’t be for real!”

That map was the center of discussion for the next few minutes as we talked and wondered how it came to be in that crack in the log, who might have put it there, along with a multitude of other questions and ideas related to. It also motivated our group to go back into the cabin and poke our noses into every nook and cranny in that old building, to see if we could find any more treasures. Who knows what we might find.

I know I have touched on this subject before, but I wonder how often while on this journey through life, we have hopes that we will stumble upon some “treasure” that will make all the difference in the world for us and our families—for the rest of our lives? We are flooded with opportunities nearly every day where we are promised wealth and riches, if our name or number is selected, if we will just complete the survey, send in the card, sign up for the subscription, or spend a few dollars for a lottery ticket. Surely our “luck” will change some day—right?

You know something? Money and finances are talked about a lot in the Bible. In The Message paraphrase of the Bible, in Proverbs 28:20, we find these words: Committed and persistent work pays off;    get-rich-quick schemes are ripoffs.

I have a sneaking hunch that if we were to spend some quality time searching the Scriptures for instructions from God on how we should handle our finances, we would realize anew and afresh the multitude of blessings He has given us. The Christian needs no “get-rich-quick schemes,” we have Jesus!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the reassurance that You take care of those you call Your own. You see that the needs of Your children are taken care of and You bless us beyond all that we might imagine. Thank you for the promise that You will never leave us nor forsake us. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

Ps: Wouldn’t you know it? I still have that map after all these years. I discovered it a few days ago in a box of stuff. I guess I have been carrying it around for right at 50 years now. Maybe someday I will have time to see if I can find the Carico Mine, huh?

 

Scripture quotations from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group."

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