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Archive for June, 2010

It was a warm spring afternoon as I stood with a group of police department staff members alongside an oval running track at the local high school. In front of us, going through stretching exercises to loosen up for the task ahead of them was a group of around a dozen police officer candidates. They had already passed a written test and several physical agility tests. Now they had to complete a one mile run around this track; four laps. The score for the physical portion of the qualification tests was cumulative. In other words, some of those who had reached this point had already accumulated enough points to pass, as long as they completed the one mile run. Others had to complete it within a certain period of time to enable them to receive the minimum number of points to pass, overall.

The candidates were told to get ready, get set and “Go!” was shouted out as the time clock started. By the time the first of the 12 or so runners had completed the first lap the young men and women were strung out with large gaps between some of them. One young man was far behind everyone else. In fact, by the time he had completed his first lap he had already been passed by the first few runners who were now on their third lap around the track.

Our attention was drawn to this one young man again and again. He obviously had to exert great effort to keep going and you could hardly call his progress a “run.” It seemed almost as if he was dragging himself around the track and it was obvious he was in pain. He was having a real struggle.

By the time this last man had completed his second turn around the track other runners were already finished with their four laps and were stretched out on the grass beneath the shade of nearby trees. At the end of the third lap this man was the only one left on the track. Everyone else had completed the run.

We continued to watch as this last man finally slowed to a walk. He never stopped; but he simply walked. Even that appeared to be a painful struggle for him now. By the time he finally walked across the finish line most of the other candidates had left for the showers; to get cleaned up for the next part of the examination process. But as we greeted this young man who finished last there must have been a hint of respect in our remarks as we spoke to him. He was a person who knew what the word “endurance” stood for. You see, this man had an artificial leg and it was questionable whether or not he could score high enough to pass the physical portion of the test. But he had done well enough that all he had to do on the one mile run was to complete it—just simply keep going till he crossed the finish line. And he had demonstrated to us that he had the staying power, the fortitude, the grit and the stamina to do just that.

I suppose there are times in our journey through this life when we may be tempted to quit—to give up. We have been walking with the Lord for a time but things have become difficult and we wonder if it is really worth it any longer. I think those are the times we need to begin praying and asking God to give us the endurance needed to complete this race we are in.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:4, we find these words as written in The Message: May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God’s love and Christ’s endurance.

I like that. With Christ’s endurance you and I can be assured of completing this race. Don’t ever give up!

Prayer: Father, please help me during times when I find I am discouraged and give me the endurance—the staying power—to complete this journey through life. Yes, Lord, give me endurance! 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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Many years ago a friend told me he “did not need God yet.” He did—and still does—but simply does not realize it. We all have friends like that who need our prayers.

Pastor Bill

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Don’t become so self-sufficient that you begin to think you don’t need God in every area of your life.

 

Pastor Bill

 

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It had been a tumultuous period of several months and my wife and I had come to the realization that we were stretched very thin emotionally, physically and maybe even spiritually. We felt completely drained. Burned out? Probably close to it.

We had been dealing with some major problems that had become all-consuming in their seeming need for our attention. In fact, it was on a Wednesday evening that I came to the realization that I had few resources left within me with which to continue facing the trials and multiple crises that seemed to be demanding my constant attention. Something had to be done, and soon. I needed some peace and quiet; a time in which I could think over what had been taking place in recent months that had so impacted our home and every facet of our daily lives. I needed time to pray, have uninterrupted discussions with my wife, and time to reflect on our future.

That next morning, a Thursday, I got on the telephone and within a short time had made arrangements for my wife and I to be gone from home and work for a period of two weeks. During the first week of this period we would seclude ourselves in a mountain retreat, where we could spend the days without an alarm clock or a schedule of any kind. We would be away from people and appointments. We could simply spend this time talking with each other, talking with God, reading His Word, and allowing the presence of our Heavenly Father, along with the peace of that physical setting to begin to restore us emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.

This all took place many years ago but I wonder if during that difficult time I may have prayed and said, “Dear God…..Give me peace! Please, give me peace!”

The writer of the discarded letter I had found had asked God for that in the prayer they had written: “Dear God…..Give me peace.”

Whatever it was that caused that person to make such a request of God was not alone in their desire. Millions over the centuries have found themselves at a point in life—often on numerous occasions, I would expect—where they felt absent of any peace.

In Psalm 55:4-8 as written in The Message, the writer seems as if he is having an even more difficult time than I was experiencing. Here is what he says: My insides are turned inside out; specters of death have me down. I shake with fear, I shudder from head to foot. “Who will give me wings,” I ask—“wings like a dove?” Get me out of here on dove wings; I want some peace and quiet. I want a walk in the country, I want a cabin in the woods. I’m desperate for a change from rage and stormy weather.

Wow! This fellow must have been having a bad day. He needed to get away from things, too! And then he closes this Psalm with these words, in verses 22-23: Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out. He’ll never let good people topple into ruin. But you, God, will throw the others into a muddy bog, Cut the lifespan of assassins and traitors in half. And I trust in you.

Then in Numbers 6:24-26 we have these familiar words: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

Yes, Lord, give me peace.

Prayer: Father, thank You for your willingness to grant us peace if we will take time to ask you for it and then, in obedience, follow your plan for our lives. 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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If Jesus in not Lord of all; He is not Lord at all.

 

Pastor Bill

 

 

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It has been many years ago that my wife and I received a call from one of her close friends. This lady had just received word that something had happened to her husband on his job site up in the mountains and it was unknown whether or not he was going to survive.

Less than an hour later we stood with this friend, alongside a mountain roadway, as her husband was brought out of the woods by the ambulance crew. He had died.

It seemed that there was no way to comfort this young wife who had just received the new title of “widow.” We did what we could. We tried to offer words of consolation. We prayed for her and assured her we would continue to pray. But I am not certain how much any of this helped in those first few hours after her husband had died. This lady needed comfort—and it was comfort we seemed unable to provide her.

There are no doubt times when all of us could pray something like “Dear God, comfort me.” If we were writing a letter to God in which we were being absolutely honest it would not be unusual to find such a request of Him, would it?

In The Message, in Isaiah 66:12 we read: As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you.

Don’t you appreciate the picture those brief words provide for us?

And then in Matthew 14:27 we see how Jesus was quick to bring comfort to his friends when they were frightened. It happened during a wild storm out on the Sea of Galilee and they thought they were going to drown. The Message puts it this way: But Jesus was quick to comfort them. "Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid."

My wife’s friend did discover the comfort her Heavenly Father provides. It was a powerful thing that she saw at work in her life in the days that followed.

Prayer: Father, thank You for that comfort which only You are able to provide us. What a blessing! Yes! 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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Before your faith can be shared, it must be lived.

 

Pastor Bill

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