Archive for March, 2010

We had been sprawled about on the porch of the old log cabin with some of the boys seated on nearby rocks or logs. We had reached the top of this mountain, appropriately named Gold Hill, a short time earlier after hiking up the trail that began where the road had ended. After looking around for a few minutes we had decided it was time to take a break from exploring and eat the lunches each of us had brought up the mountain with us.

 Gold Hill 8 x 10 glossy


It was a warm summer day and it was nice to kick back in the shade of the evergreen trees that covered the mountain top and just take it easy for a while. At some point in our conversation we began to talk about mines—gold mines. This was an area of the Idaho Panhandle where, at one time, there had been plenty of mining going on. And for a time it appeared that some folks, at least, had done alright in searching for the elusive mineral. All of us had heard stories about gold prospectors who had worked claims in this mountainous area of the Palouse River drainage.

Some of the stories that made the rounds told of miners who had struck it rich and had regularly gone to town to cash in the stash of gold dust and nuggets they had found. Of course, the few who had struck it rich rarely told anyone where they had found their gold. It was kept a secret that many of them allegedly took to the grave with them. Some of the mines had become operations that employed a number of men. Others were small, one-man operations. Some were claims that were worked by a man and his wife.

The mines had names such as the Gold Bug Mine, Mizpah Mine, Hoodoo Mine and the Carico Mine. Oh, yes—the Carico Mine. Some of us had heard stories that there had been a good “strike” at the Carico Mine, which was supposedly located somewhere near this mountain top we were presently having lunch upon! Some folks had reportedly dug a lot of gold out of the ground at the Carico Mine but, for some unknown reason, the miners had left the area, leaving gold still in the ground, and had never returned. The stories about the Carico mine included accounts of people who had tried to locate the diggings but had always failed to find it. It was sure too bad those miners hadn’t left a map for someone.

Finally, our lunches consumed and all of us rested up, we decided it was time for more exploring around the top of this mountain. Two of the fellows headed for the old fire lookout tower. It was a tall metal structure with a ladder that went straight up one side, all the way to the top. The boys going in that direction were going to climb to the top and have a look at the view.

Gold Hill Tower

A couple of the fellows decided that they would just poke around in the brush and trees and see what they could discover. I and another boy went inside the old log cabin and began to poke around. This was the cabin where the fire lookout lived during the summer on the mountain. There was still an old bed frame in one corner, a rustic table and a couple of chairs, along with a few other items of furniture. We poked around the cabin, looking in cupboards and in the corners, hoping to find some kind of treasure to take home with us. And then I had climbed up onto that crossbeam and found the map.

The shafts of sunlight poking through cracks in the cedar shakes on the roof of the old cabin provided me with just enough light so I could make out the words on the old, yellowed piece of paper I held in my hands. It was a map—an obviously hand-made map. As I looked at it closely I could make out names like Gold Creek, Mineral Mountain, Last Chance Gulch, Gold Bug, Hoteling Creek, Harvard and Princeton. Hey! Princeton was my home town! And there, just as plain as day, was the Carico Mine, off to the northwest of the top of the mountain where our group of boys was enjoying this summer day.

What a find! The guys weren’t going to believe it when I showed them what I had just discovered. A hidden map! A map with the Carico Mine shown on it. This was unbelievable!

Was this map going to be the “key” that would unlock a new chapter in life for me? I wondered if I could actually find the Carico Mine, where it was shown on the map. Would the map be difficult to follow to any of the places shown on it? Well, we would just have to find out.

It seems that there are multitudes of people who go through life searching for riches—looking for those “things” they believe will bring them happiness and completeness in their journey through time. People follow the “maps” prepared for them by their investment counselor, their accountant, their psychologist, their psychoanalyst or their therapist. And far too quickly, our lives come to an end and all those things we have worked to acquire mean nothing. Simply put, only what’s done for the Lord will count.

An acronym for God’s Word, the Bible, is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. I have always liked that. The Bible is our roadmap for life. Its instructions will never fail us. Take a moment to read these verses from Psalm 119:9-16, as they are given in the Bible paraphrase, The Message:

How can a young person live a clean life?

      By carefully reading the map of your Word.

   I’m single-minded in pursuit of you;

      don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.

   I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart

      so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.

   Be blessed, God;

      train me in your ways of wise living.

   I’ll transfer to my lips

      all the counsel that comes from your mouth;

   I delight far more in what you tell me about living

      than in gathering a pile of riches.

   I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,

      I attentively watch how you’ve done it.

   I relish everything you’ve told me of life,

      I won’t forget a word of it.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to remember that your Word must be my road map for life. Draw me often to it; keep me close to its truths and wisdom. May I see you more clearly in its pages as I read and study. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

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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Oh, boy! This was almost too good to be true! This was the kind of thing I had read about in books. In fact, movies were made about just this type of experience. Sure! How could I be so lucky?

I was inside of an old dilapidated log cabin that had been built many years earlier on top of this mountain, just a stone’s throw from an old rickety fire lookout tower. It had not been inhabited for many years, as the Forest Service no longer used the tower. It seemed that maybe this cabin had been left standing on this mountain top for young boys, just like me and my friends, to explore on a warm summer day such as we had been enjoying.

I was seated on a large log that was a crossbeam, from the top of one wall to another, in the center of the cabin. The shafts of sunlight poking through cracks in the cedar shakes on the roof made it obvious there was a lot of dust floating around and my buddies and I had no doubt been the cause of it all, as we had been stirring around to see what we might find. At some point I had climbed onto the top of an old table in the center of the room, grabbed hold of the large log support beam over my head, and pulled myself up onto it.

After my eyes had become adjusted to the dim light, my gaze had moved around the cabin until I suddenly caught site of a scrap of light-colored paper, stuffed down in a large crack in the beam I was sitting on. I leaned forward for a closer look and saw that the piece of paper had obviously been placed there on purpose. Hey! I must tell you that this quickly had all my attention. What was it? Who had put it there? Why was it stuffed down in this crack?

I got out my pocket knife, opened it, and began to dig at the paper. In a few moments I had worked it up and out of the crack enough that I was able to grasp it with two fingers and remove it. I sat up straight on the log and began to look at this treasure I was holding. It appeared to be a piece of paper that had been folded several times to a size approximately five inches long and a little over two inches wide. As I began to unfold the paper it became obvious it must have been in the crack on the log a long time. It was yellowed and dry.

As I carefully opened the last fold of the paper I realized that I was holding some kind of a hand-made map. I moved the paper into a spot where a shaft of sunlight touched it and quickly realized that the center of the map showed the fire lookout on top of this mountain—Gold Hill. There was a large circle on it that contained the points of a compass and then I saw that some other mountains were shown on the map along with a number of creeks and streams, some small communities, and a mine. A mine? Yes, a gold mine! The Carico Mine!

Oh, boy. I had heard about this mine. There was some kind of a story about the Carico Mine that I had heard. Something about an old miner who had struck it rich in the upper reaches of a small drainage and stream appropriately named Gold Creek. The details of the story were sketchy but, as best I could remember, the miner had been removing a fair amount of gold, this much sought after precious metal, from the earth when he suddenly disappeared from the area and was no longer heard from. But for some reason the exact location of his claim—and what had been called the Carico Mine—was no longer certain.

And here I sat with a map in my hands that showed the Carico Mine on it! Oh, boy! Hey! Who says treasure maps don’t exist!

I imagine that, throughout all of history, folks have hoped for “instant” riches. Even today people still actively search for hidden treasure. People spend hard-earned money on lotto tickets in hopes that one day they will get the right numbers; they will “strike it rich!”

Did you know that hidden treasure and gold miners are spoken of in the Bible? Listen to this “gem” from Proverbs 2:1-5, as we find it written in The MessageGood friend, take to heart what I’m telling you; collect my counsels and guard them with your life. Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding. That’s right—if you make Insight your priority, and won’t take no for an answer, Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt, Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours; you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God.

I wonder what would happen if all of us would pray and ask God to give us an insatiable thirst for His Word? I expect we would come to know God in ways we had never before dreamed.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I would like to ask for that right now—a deep, insatiable and unquenchable thirst for your Word. And as I read it, would You please cause that thirst to be coupled together with understanding, followed by a an increasing knowledge of the ways of God. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill


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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It was the kind of happening that grabbed hold your heart. The little girl marched confidently to the microphone, from where she had been standing with the others, to sing the short solo piece that was her big part in the presentation by the children’s choir. Moments after she began to sing it became apparent that something was wrong. Seconds later the little girl finished her part and returned quickly to her place in the choir, a distraught expression on her face. As she turned to face the audience, those near the front of the auditorium could see the tears that had welled up in her eyes and were beginning to course down her cheeks.

Though most of us had no idea what was wrong we continued to be entranced by the scene in front of us. As the group of boys and girls continued to sing at the top of their lungs, the tears continued to roll down the cheeks of the little girl, but they did not go unnoticed by the other children standing around her. As I watched the looks of concern on the faces of several of the children I observed one little girl lean over and whisper something in the ear of the teary-eyed youngster. Then she began to pat her on the back as if to assure her that, whatever had happened, it was “okay.” An instant later I noticed an older girl, standing back of the distressed child, as she began to pat her on the right shoulder. She also leaned forward and spoke what must have been some words of encouragement. It wasn’t over yet. An older boy, who I later learned was a big brother to the small girl, began to pat her encouragingly on the left shoulder.

I didn’t know what may have happened but it was clear that those around the distressed child were concerned for her and were doing their best to offer encouragement and comfort as the choir continued to lift their voices in song.

The Apostle Paul was writing his letter to the Colossians when he said, beginning in chapter 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, . . .”

Here were three young “chosen,” ones, providing a vivid and glowing demonstration of compassion and kindness. . . . . . Sometimes it is good for all of us, whatever our age, to imitate children, isn’t it?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to be aware of those around me who may need an expression of compassion and kindness from me. And help me to be obedient as You guide me. 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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Our nation has undergone some real “stretching exercises” in recent years that have included the tragedy of 9-11, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and most recently the long-lasting recession that has had an impact on each of us. With such happenings you may occasionally hear a statement like “Our country will never be the same again!”

I will be quick to agree with you that this is true. Yet, can I share with you that there are some things that will never change? Think about this for a moment . . . . The laugher from a group of children playing in a pile of multi-colored leaves on a cool autumn afternoon will still be heard after school and on Saturdays. The look of amazement on a child’s face as they view a lighted Christmas tree will never change. Little children, their eyes sparkling, will still try to catch snowflakes on their tongues when the first snows of winter begin to fall.

Adults will be reminded of the promises of God when viewing the beauty of a rainbow after a summer shower. A white-haired grandma and grandpa will still find themselves flooded with a sense of wonder as they view the splendor of a sunset on an early summer day. Little boys and girls will still pick dandelions and sniff their aroma each spring, marveling at the bright color of something their parents seem to view with distaste. All of us will admire a harvest moon filling the sky with its golden light. We will still be able to walk along the sands of the seashore, breathing deeply of the fresh air while considering the awesome vastness of the world’s oceans, and remembering that God said He would bury our sins in the deepest of oceans, never remembering them again.

The aroma of fresh baked bread or peanut butter cookies just out of the over will still be the same. Grandma’s fried chicken will still make our mouths water. The hug of a three-year old will still be just as warm and welcome. A group of children singing Christmas carols at the top of their lungs will still stir our hearts. A field of grain waving back and forth in a light summer breeze, ready for harvest, will cause us to wonder again at God’s goodness in providing for us.

God’s love for us will still be the same. He will not love us any less tomorrow than He does today. The power of Jesus Christ for our salvation will not change. The promise for the believer in Christ of eternity with Him will never be absent.

Whatever the future may hold, let us not forget that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”  (Hebrews 13:8). He will not change. You can trust Him. He is faithful. Yes, some things will still be the same. Your Heavenly Father is watching over you!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, don’t allow me to ever forget that You will always be the same. You will love me and care for me; you will always provide for my needs. I can trust You. You are faithful! 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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Today’s blog entry is a bit different than what you usually receive. I wanted you to see what I was writing about. I found these old black and white photos my dad took of our adventure on the Beaver Slide. The first photo shows my brother, Andy, on my right, seated with our mother next to the fire. Morning has come. The car is back on somewhat level ground and it won’t be long before we pack up and head for home. I think we all look appropriately tired.

The second photo was taken at a different time, looking back up the Beaver Slide from the bottom. You can’t see all of it but you can see enough to get an idea of the kind of a “road” it was.

Thank you for reading The Shelter Tree and I hope you are often inspired, encouraged and challenged.

May God bless you.

Pastor Bill





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Ugh! Ouch! Wow, this was no place to try and get a good night’s sleep, let me tell you! If I had been the only one in the back seat of the car trying to rest, it might not have been so bad, but I had to share the space with my younger brother. Just about the time I would be ready to drop off Andy would groan, stretch, and give me a hard shove with one foot or the other. He would keep right on sleeping away and there I would be, wide awake once again.

Not only was I getting very little sleep but it was getting cold in the old Chevy. And it would have helped if it was setting on level ground, but not only was the front end pointed down the steep hill, it was tipped over towards the side of the car that was my side—where I always sat—right behind my Dad when he was driving. I just could not seem to get comfortable, no matter how I sat.

Mom seemed to be sleeping pretty well in the front seat but I suddenly realized Dad was not in the car. I rose up and stared out into the darkness and saw that he was sitting by the fire. He was probably warmer than the rest of us. Maybe he was keeping the fire going to keep the bears away!

I looked into the blackness of the sky and began to realize that it wasn’t all that dark. I was looking at a cloudless sky that was literally saturated with stars—stars in every direction as far as you could see. What an awesome sight it was!

As I continued to look around us I saw, far to the north, an artificial light that my Dad had pointed out earlier. That was Bald Mountain, and there was a lookout stationed there during the summer months. As I watched the light suddenly went out. Whoever was living high up on that mountain top must have gone back to bed. I figured they were sleeping far more comfortably that we were, at the moment.

As my gaze moved towards the west I could see the twinkle of several lights that were far away, in some of the valleys that must have been near our home. They were no doubt lights at some of the farms scattered across that area. As I looked at the distant lights I wondered about the people that lived there and if they were warm and comfortable.

I finally pulled my jacket up more tightly around my neck, lay back in the seat, and tried to go to sleep again. Hopefully my brother would mind his own business and refrain from kicking me for a while! As I lay there I wondered . . . . . How long till morning comes? Why is the night taking so long?

The next thing I knew I was coming awake once more. Wow! It was downright cold in the old Chevy! Suddenly I realized that Mom was out of the car. I raised up and saw that she and Dad were seated around the fire that was blazing merrily away. Hey! It was time to join them. As I crawled over my brother, who continued to sleep seemingly quite contented with it all, I shoved the door open and climbed out. As I stood up I realized that the sky was beginning to get light in the east. Morning was coming!

I joined my parents around the fire, scooting up just as close to it as possible as I began to enjoy its warmth. Mom was pouring hot water into a cup with some hot chocolate mix in it and in moments she handed it to me. I wrapped my hands around the cup and began to warm them, holding it up near my face to enjoy the wonderful aroma. Say, this was alright! We had made it through the night. Morning was coming!

In Psalm 30, beginning with the last half of verse 3, we find these words: . . . . weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. When I felt secure, I said, "I will never be shaken." O LORD, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm;

Yes, when we travel through this world with the Lord, we can always trust that “night” will end; and “morning” will come. Sure!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to remember that the “night” I may be traveling through, at this moment, will not last forever. You are walking with me and I can trust You. I can rest assured that “morning” will come. 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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Say, now……..it was beginning to get just a bit cool! The sense of excitement my brother, Andy, and I had been experiencing a short while earlier was also beginning to “cool” somewhat. Darkness had enveloped the mountain side and the extremely steep “road” our old Chevy was resting so precariously upon. The cavernous ditch our car had slipped into seemed even deeper in the darkness.

It seemed as if a hush had settled over the mountain as daylight had fled to be replaced by the darkness and a summer sky that was now filled with stars. My mother was seated on a log next to the road, with Andy and I sitting on flat rocks we had found nearby. The only sound was the scraping of the shovel and Dad’s heavy breathing as he worked to move dirt around the front of the car.

The earlier excitement that accompanied the old Chevy sliding into the deep ditch had waned. By this time my brother and I had probably asked all the important questions such as:

“How long are we going to have to be here?”

“Are we going to have to get help to get out?”

“What will happen if we can’t get out?”

“Are we going to be here all night?”

“Where are we going to sleep?”

“Are there any other people around here?”

“Are there any bears around here?”

“Will the coyotes attack us?”

Dad had reached the conclusion that it was going to take a good share of the night for him to dig our car out. He had gone to work with a small shovel he carried in the car and he had decided he was going to have to work away at the side of the ditch to smooth it out in front of the Chevy so that, in a sense, he would be able to drive the car up and out of the ditch and onto level ground when he was done. But it was going to take time—a lot of time.

Dad climbed up and out of the ditch he had been working in and came over to where we were seated. “I think maybe it is time that we had a fire, don’t you?” he asked. We heartily agreed and in a matter of minutes my brother and I, along with our Mom and Dad, were soaking up the warmth of a small fire, enjoying the pop and snap of the burning twigs and branches and watching showers of sparks ascend into the night sky above us. Mom got the coffee pot out of the back of the car and filled it with water out of the canvas water bag that was hanging from the front bumper. Dad had placed some rocks at the edge of the fire so the coffee pot could set on them and begin to heat up from the warm coals of the fire. Hey, we had a good supply of hot chocolate in the grub box so it would not be long before we had some of that savory liquid to enjoy. Maybe this night would not be so bad after all!

Near the end of the Gospel of John, in the New Testament, the disciples are going through some really difficult times. Their friend and companion—the One they had chosen to follow—had been brutally put to death on a cross. Their future looked downright bleak and they had to wonder what the days ahead might hold for them. On one particular evening they decide they just as well return to their “roots” and try commercial fishing again. They had been out all night, on the Sea of Galilee, and had caught nothing—not a single fish. Then something happened that changes their lives forever.

In the early morning hours they find Jesus, who had died only a few days earlier, on the shore! He has a small, warm fire burning and some fish cooking. He invites the men to join him for breakfast. Look at these words form John 21:9-12. . . . .

When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught. . . . . . Come and have breakfast."

I have often wondered at the deep sense of friendship and fellowship that must have been present around that fire on that cold morning. It must have been so good to sit next to the fire, getting warmed up, eating some hot food, and enjoying the companionship of Jesus, and each other. It must have been a morning when hope was restored in the hearts of those men once more.

Yes, it was surely going to be a long night for us on the Beaver Slide, but there was nothing quite like the warmth and sound of our small fire to help us get through it. And we were with people who loved and cared for each other. And there was hot chocolate and other good snacks!

Friends, there are times in our journey through life when we may be experiencing difficult times and we simply need the close presence of a friend to warm our hearts and give us a sense of hope for our future. Our Heavenly Father is faithful in bringing those people into our lives at such a point of need. But, I wonder, who around you is in need of such a friend—today? Are you willing to be used by God to touch someone’s life, for Him, today? Is there someone you need to invite to join you for a cup of coffee, tea or even hot chocolate? Who is it that is in need of your company today?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to be sensitive to the needs of my friends—to that one who may need me to simply be present in their life for a time today, to offer encouragement and hope for their future. Show me who that might be, Lord, and help me to serve you faithfully. 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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