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Archive for September, 2010

LUCK

I kept my eyes focused on the end of the fallen tree as I shuffled along its snow covered surface, intent on reaching the other side of the creek without falling off. This was no time to have my attention anywhere other than making sure I made it to the other side without falling into the icy creek beneath the log. A few moments later I stepped off the tree and onto solid ground and began to look for the easiest way to begin climbing the steep, tree- covered hillside in front of me. I didn’t see any sign that elk had been on that hillside but I had certainly heard something making noise up in those trees a few minutes earlier. It was time to investigate the source of that noise.

I tried to move as quietly as I could, but it wasn’t long and I was breathing heavily from the exertion of struggling up the steep slope through the snow. I also found I had to change direction every little bit to get around clumps of brush and fallen trees that blocked my path. The wind blowing snow into my eyes didn’t help matters either. It must have been a good half hour or more before I finally made it to the top of the ridge and came upon what appeared to be recently made elk tracks in the snow. Aha! It seemed I was on the right path. Now I needed to be extra vigilant. I might happen upon an elk at any moment.

I had my rifle ready as I slowed my walk, trying to be careful and move as quietly as I possibly could. At the same time I was constantly looking ahead through the trees, as well as to each side as I began to follow the trail the elk had left in the falling snow. Maybe this was going to be my lucky day!

This matter of “luck” comes up in certain versions/paraphrases of the Bible every once in a while. Quite often the portions of scripture speak of people being “down on their luck.” But in The Message, in Luke 19:5, we have a portion of the account of Zacchaeus when he was up in a tree trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus as He passed by. Scripture tells us: When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home." Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, "What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?"

Now, do you think that was really a matter of “luck” or was this all part of Jesus’ plan for that particular day? I must confess that I don’t believe that “luck” is a word in Jesus’ vocabulary. He had planned to have dinner with Zacchaeus that day; and He knew that it was going to upset some of the folks who didn’t think Zacchaeus was the kind of person anyone with any dignity would be associating with. But Jesus quite often has different plans than we do. He often “fails” to meet the expectations of humans. But would we want it any other way?

Prayer: Father, I am so thankful that I don’t have to depend on “luck” when it comes to knowing You. Thank You for loving me so much that You came into this world to give your life for me. Yes, thank You. 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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Love always seeks the other person’s highest good.

Pastor Bill

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RISK OF FAITH

Suddenly I heard a loud crack from somewhere around me, and I froze. I stopped moving through the deep snow and looked across the creek and up the tree-covered hillside. It seemed as if the noise had come from that direction. I held my breath, turning my head slightly in hopes I might more clearly hear whatever had made the noise. It was only a brief time and I heard another snap, as if a low branch had been broken off the trunk of a tree by some animal—some animal like an elk, maybe?

I don’t know how long I stood, barely moving and trying to keep quiet as I listened for any more indication that an animal was up on the hill on the other side of the small stream. I looked back and forth over the hillside, hoping to see some movement through the trees. Finally, I began to move again, slowly, being as quiet as I could. The thick layer of snow on the ground helped in that respect. After a few minutes I approached the stream. I could not see much water as most of it was covered with a layer of ice with snow on top of that. But I could hear the gurgling sound it made as the water tumbled slowly along over the bed of rocks it traveled on and I caught glimpses of it through the occasional openings in the snow. I found a spot where a large tree had fallen across the creek, and though it was covered with snow like everything else, it still provided a bridge that would permit me to move to the opposite side. I tightened my grip on my rifle, stepped up onto the log, and began to shuffle slowly and carefully along its length. This was no time to be falling into the frigid water beneath me, but I felt it was worth the risk to get to the other side of the stream and start up the hillside towards the area from where the sounds had come.

You know, there are people we read about in the Bible who took risks. I will agree that some of the folks we read about took foolish risks, but others took risks that resulted in some dramatic rewards for them. In The Message, in the New Testament book of Matthew, there is an account of a lady who had been ill for many years. Look at what we are told beginning in Matthew 9:20: Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, "If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well." Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: "Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well." The woman was well from then on.

A “risk of faith.” I like that. As we journey through life we have to learn when it might be advisable to take a risk; and never carelessly and without some thought—and typically with prayer. But there are those times when we need to take a risk of faith, and leave the outcome in the hands of God. He is faithful. You can trust Him!

Prayer: Father, as I travel along this journey through life would you guide me and direct me when it comes to those occasions when You would desire that I take a risk of faith in serving You, and following You. Help me never to act, or react, carelessly or thoughtlessly. But help me to be a “risk-taker for Jesus when that is in your plan for my life. 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’s what you think about on the inside that makes you act the way you do on the outside.

Pastor Bill

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God does not finish with us until He takes us home.

Pastor Bill

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BRUSH

I needed to make up my mind quickly and get moving. The wind on this ridge top was beginning to make itself felt through my clothing and it was now bringing small stinging snowflakes with it. I determined the best move was to leave the ridge top I was standing on and drop down towards the small stream in the bottom of the draw. Even though the wind was coming from the east, and into my face, I should be able to get out of the worst of it in a few minutes as I headed down the hill. And that was the way the elk was traveling, according to the tracks it had left in the snow.

I placed my rifle across my chest and rested it in the crook of my left arm as I began moving slowly down the hill, following the tracks the elk had left. I did my best to move as quietly as I could. As I descended the hillside towards the creek I realized that the snow was getting deeper and it was slowing me down. No problem. Things like that just “come with the territory” if you enjoy hunting.

Minutes later I found myself faced with brush that was getting thicker and more difficult to get through the further I went. Every few moments it seemed I was either getting slapped in the face with a branch or I was getting a face full of snow when a tree branch would let loose of some of the white stuff that had been accumulating on a branch till I disturbed it. I finally decided that I was going to need to go around this large patch of brush. It was turning out to be a large patch of brush that seemed to cover a large area on both sides of the creek and it was so thick that I would make a lot of noise trying to get through it—if I could.

Even though the elk tracks indicated the animal had gone through it without difficulty, I was not ready to get down on my hands and knees and crawl—not just yet. I would find an easier way around it and then locate the tracks on the other side of the stream. I began to slog through the deep snow, headed downstream alongside the brush patch, looking for a spot to open up so I could get across the creek and get to the other side of this draw I was in.

Suddenly I heard a loud crack from somewhere around me, and I froze—I stopped moving and held my breath, turning my head so out of the wind that still blew in hopes I could hear whatever had made the noise.

The person who has ever hunted can no doubt relate to what I have so briefly described in the few lines just written. You have probably experienced a cold and overcast early winter morning, facing a biting wind, getting slapped about by brush and small limbs, had snow dropped down the back of your neck and heard the snap and crack of branches as you moved quietly through the woods. Whether or not you gave it much thought you were constantly making choices even as the day began. You determined the time to set the alarm, what you were going to wear, where you were going to hunt, what kind of a lunch you would take, etc. Then you had to decide which way to go once you parked your vehicle, how far to go up this hill or down that draw, and just how long you would be in the great outdoors on this particular day.

We make multitudes of choices during a 24-hour period, but how often do we consult the Lord when it comes to what we see as the “minor” decisions in life? As I mulled this question over in my mind I realized that, quite often, I consult the Lord over the major decisions in life but probably take care of most the “little” things in life on my own.

In John 4 we find the account of Jesus visiting with the Samaritan woman at the well. His disciples had gone looking for food and when they returned they were concerned that He still had eaten nothing. They wanted him to keep his strength up. And then we find these words, beginning in verse 33: “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other. Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.. . . . .”

I wonder if it would not be a good practice for us to more frequently seek God’s direction during our day. Maybe it would be a good thing to begin each new day asking that He have His way and His will in every moment of the day before us. Yes. I am convinced it is a good thing to “cover” our day in prayer.

Prayer: Father, would you cause me to begin a practice where I consistently “cover” each new day with prayer, requesting your guidance, direction and protection through each moment that lies before me? In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

 

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

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Our Christianity should be of such a dynamic force that we are spiritually active and growing day after day.

Pastor Bill

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