Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2010

FROST HEAVES

Darkness was beginning to settle across the vast wilderness that lay ahead of me as the few lights of Haines Junction, Yukon Territory, grew smaller in the rear view mirror of the car. I had stopped just long enough to top off the fuel tank and grab a sandwich to eat on the road. Now civilization, if you could call it that, was behind me in that small community with the twinkling lights that grew steadily dimmer as I sped westward. A wild and unsettled country, with few humans, lay before me. The rugged mountains that soared high into the sky above me on each side of the highway were covered with snow and ice and seemed to stare down at me with a menacing look. It almost seemed as if they were questioning my right to be entering this land they stood sentinel over and surely considered their own. I had nearly 450 long miles ahead of me before the trip was over. It would be a long stretch.

I had traveled only a few miles before I was faced with one of the major and unique headaches facing travelers in this part of the far north—frost heaves. If you are driving on a paved roadway where there are frost heaves you quickly learn they can cause you to feel as if you are riding a roller coaster at times. Stretches of highway where frost heaves have caused damage can have large, deep cracks running for long distances and portions of the pavement may have fallen from the road on either side. There are typically portions of the roadway that suddenly drop away from the flat surface of the pavement or have been raised up dramatically. Drivers must take great care to keep their eyes on the road and be prepared to swerve right or left to miss sections that can do real damage to a vehicle. There are stretches of “highway” many miles in length where a person must drive between 20 and 30 miles per hour to avoid damage to the vehicle.

I had slowed in one particularly rough area, striving to miss the worst of bumps and sharp dips in the road, when suddenly there was a loud “Bang!” that sounded like a tire blowing out on the passenger side of the vehicle. I slowed rapidly to a stop at the edge of the road. I didn’t need to get off the road as there was no traffic to be concerned about at the moment. I was just hoping I wasn’t going to need help for repairs. It might be a while before someone came along. I breathed a prayer as I got out, fearful of what I might find as I walked around the back of the car.

I may have felt a little like the writer of Psalm 55:-5-6, who said: Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.

Yet, there are so many portions of Scripture that deal with the matter of fear such as Isaiah 43:5 where we read these comforting words: Do not be afraid, for I am with you. . . . .

And our Heavenly Father reminds us of that again and again through His Word……… Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Remember that as you go through this day, will you?

Prayer: Father, thank You for the many and frequent reminders you give us in your Word that we do not need to be afraid, for you are with us. You will never leave us nor forsake us. 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.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

When God gives marching orders, you better march!

Pastor Bill

Read Full Post »

Learn to depend upon God—always!

Pastor Bill

Read Full Post »

THANKFUL FOR THE THORNS

Some of you have no doubt heard or read the following story. I don’t know the author or where I found it but it has been a blessing to me. Allow God to speak to you as you read…..

A young woman named Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks when she pulled open the florist shop door against a cold November gust of wind.

Her life had been as sweet as a spring breeze and then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a "minor" automobile accident stole her joy.  This was Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant son.  She grieved over their loss.  Troubles had multiplied.  Her husband’s company "threatened" to transfer his job to a new location.  Her sister had called to say that she could not come for her long awaited holiday visit.  THEN!  Sandra’s close friend suggested that Sandra’s grief was no doubt a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer.

"She has no idea what I’m feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder. "Thanksgiving?  Thankful for what?" she wondered.  "For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her?  For an airbag that saved her life, but took her child’s?"

"Good afternoon, can I help you?" Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk.

"I….I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.

"For Thanksgiving?  Do you want the beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the ‘Thanksgiving Special’?  I’m convinced that flowers tell stories," she continued.  "Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out.  "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong."

Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."

Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer, "Hi, Barbara…let me get your order."

She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed thorny roses.  Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there were no flowers.

"Do you want these in a box?" asked the clerk.

Sandra watched for the customer’s response.  Was this a joke?  Who would want rose stems with no flowers? She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.

"Yes, please," the customer replied with an appreciative smile.  "You’d think after three years of getting the special I wouldn’t be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again."  She said, as she gently tapped her chest.

The customer left the shop moments later and Sandra stammered, "Ah, that lady just left with, uh….she left with no flowers!"

"That’s right,” said the clerk.  "I cut off the flowers.  That’s the ‘Special’.  I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet."

"Oh, come on!  You can’t tell me someone is willing to pay for that!" exclaimed Sandra.

"Barbara came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do today," explained the clerk.  "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just lost her father to cancer; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery."

"That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk.  "For the first time in my life I had to spend the holidays alone.  I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.

"I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly.  "I’ve always thanked God for the good things in my life and I NEVER questioned Him why those GOOD things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, ‘WHY?  WHY Me?!’ It took time for me to learn that the dark times are important to our faith!  I have always enjoyed the ‘flowers’ of my life but it took the thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort!  You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted and from His consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra sucked in her breath as she remembered the thought that her friend had tried to tell her.  "I guess the truth is, I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God."

Just then someone else walked in the shop.  "Hey, Phil!" the clerk greeted the balding, chubby man.  "My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement…twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?"

"No…I’m glad you asked," Phil replied.  "Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced.  After forty years we were in a real mess, but with the Lord’s grace and guidance we trudged through problem after problem.  The Lord rescued our marriage.  Jenny, here (the clerk), told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from "thorny" times. That was good enough for me.  I took home some of those stems.  My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us.”

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"

"I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life." Sandra said to the clerk.  "It’s all too…fresh."

“Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that the thorns make the roses more precious.

We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time.  Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love.  Don’t resent the thorns."

Tears began to stream down Sandra’s cheeks.  For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on her resentment.

"I’ll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.

"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently.  "I’ll have them ready in a minute."

"Thank you.  What do I owe you?"

"Nothing—nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart.  The first year’s arrangement is always on me." The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra.  "I’ll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."

It read: My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns.  I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns.  Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns.  Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain.  Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."

Friends, as we spend time with family and friends on this Thanksgiving Holiday, let’s strive to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances (even for the thorns), for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I certainly appreciate the moments of beauty you bless me with, but on this Thanksgiving Day, I also want to thank You for the “thorns” in my life and the renewed knowledge that You are with me in even the most difficult and harsh times I may experience. Thank You, Father. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

May the peace and joy of Christ be your companion today.

Pastor Bill

Read Full Post »

When we hear God speak to us with the words “Follow Me,” we can be assured that means He has already been there.

Pastor Bill

Read Full Post »

MOMENTS OF JOY!

It has been a good many years ago now, that my Mother was sharing with me about a time when life was really tough for her and my Father. It was during the Great Depression of the 1930’s and my parents were having an extremely difficult time making ends meet. She reminded me that they did not have food stamps or the types of assistance programs that are available to people today. At this particular time they did have a little coffee and some beans and flour, but my mother could not remember having much else. For the most part all they had were the barest of staples.

One day she was working around the house and a group of ladies from the church showed up at the front door unexpectedly. It seems like things such as this often happen when we are not planning on it and you are least prepared for it, right? Sure! Company comes! Visitors come knocking at your front door!

Anyway, this group of ladies from the church set about having a meeting, right in my Mother’s living room. It was a ladies missionary group meeting.

My mother told how she did not remember having anything to give them as far as snacks to eat. She was terribly embarrassed and chagrined that she could not offer them anything. She and my Father were having a tough enough time putting food on the table for each meal. But she remembered that she did have some coffee. So, she went out into the kitchen and began making a pot for the ladies. In doing so, Mother said she pulled out a long drawer, opening further than normal to remove some type of pan or something, and, lo and behold, there lay a peanut in the shell—in all its glory!

Mother picked that small peanut up and began to look at it, her mouth watering as she did so. Oh, wow, a peanut. Did that ever look good!

Now, I have been told many times that God knows what we need even before we ask him. To my Mother, at that time in her life, that small morsel of goodness—that peanut—was an absolute moment of joy.

There is a portion of Scripture in Psalm 30, verses 10-12, that I think my Mother would have appreciated. It reads this way: Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me; LORD, be my help.” You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.

Now, I have to tell you that I don’t know that my Mother would have been able to relate to the “dancing” part, but she would have understood what the psalmist meant when he said that the Lord “clothed me with joy.” When you and I allow Jesus to live in our hearts and walk through life close to Him, we find that He provides moments of joy which are liberally sprinkled throughout our lives. Watch for them this Thanksgiving week, would you?

Prayer: Oh, Lord, help me to be aware of the “moments of joy” that you bless me with this week. Cause me to be aware of just how much I have to be thankful for. Thank You for loving me, Father. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

May the peace and joy of Christ be your companion today.

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.

Read Full Post »

One of the outstanding characteristics of a Christian should be that of great joy.

Pastor Bill

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »