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Archive for January, 2011

Don’t become insensitive to the world you’re passing through. Many people you brush shoulders with need to know Jesus.

Pastor Bill

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I’d like you to think back to when you were a kid. For some of you, that is going to be further back than for others. But we all can still remember when we were kids, even if some parts of it are a bit foggy, right? As a kid, did you ever go barefoot? I don’t mean like when you’re in bed. I hope most of you go barefoot in bed! I am not talking about when you are running around the house, either.

Can you remember one particular time when you went barefoot as a kid that really stands out in your memory? Why do you remember it? Why does it stand out in your mind?

I recently got to thinking about times that I went barefoot when I was a kid. For example, there were the occasions when I went swimming with my Dad and Mom and, oh yeah, my little brother and big sister. We swam in a small, slow-moving stream called the Palouse River. That river never seemed to get really warm and comfortable till late summer. Early on that water seemed mighty cold. I can still see myself hopping around in ankle-deep water thinking I was nearly freezing to death. When I just couldn’t stand it any longer, I could run up onto the sandy beach, plop down in that nice warm sand, and wiggle my feet into it just enough that it felt downright wonderful.

Of course, come late summer, on a hot August day, things would get reversed a bit. The sand became so hot in the afternoon that I would have to leave the grassy area where we laid our towels and shirts and run like mad for the water, feeling as if I were running on a bed of hot coals. I think my little brother did most of the screeching and yelling though. But, oh my, that cool water felt so nice!

I can also remember a late summer day, after the local farmers had their harvest in, when I was walking up a truck road in a wheat field where the dust was several inches thick. Some of you know what it’s like to walk in dust like that. Sure! It is nice and soft, and you feel like you are almost walking on air. The dust comes squeezing between your toes in little puffs of brown and it kinda’ tickles. That was a real blast!

I can also remember my brother and me going barefoot in our front yard during the summer. We used sticks to mark lines in the dirt under the huge weeping willow tree, where our imaginary ranches were, and we each had little rocking chairs that we would sit back in and look out over our “spread.” It would have been an unusual summer afternoon where we would not have felt the need for a bottle of pop. In those days it cost a nickel. That’s right; five cents. We would somehow get the cash from our folks and head across the street to the local grocery store. Now, I have to tell you, that could be quite an experience if you were barefoot. Which we usually were in the summer.

You see, that street, or actually it was the main highway through town, was not paved when I was a boy—it was gravel. And that required a decision each time we prepared to go across. Once the dust from the last car or truck passing by had settled, my brother and I had to decide—do we just run for it and try and endure the pain of all those sharp rocks, or do we try and pick our way across in an effort to step on the smallest and smoothest rocks possible?

Some days we ran, some days we didn’t. It hurt no matter which way we chose. But when I really get to thinking about this business of running, I am reminded of one of my favorite verses in the Bible, and it is really a good one for us to remember. It is Isaiah 40:30-31. Here is the way it is worded in the New International Version of the Bible: Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I pray your hope is in the Lord today.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the memories we have about days long past. Thank You for the experiences we have enjoyed in growing up. And thank You that we can have a hope that lasts and endures when we hope in You. Thank You for loving us so very much, 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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Pride and self-sufficiency will keep us from Jesus.

Pastor Bill

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I was seated on the front steps of the house, 80 pounds of Golden Retriever lying next to me and 23 pounds of 3-year-old boy playing in a dirt-filled window box nearby. The shadows of evening were lengthening as the sun continued its drop towards the western horizon. A soft midsummer breeze occasionally rustled the leaves in the trees and the air seemed to have an unusual freshness about it even though it had not rained for quite some time. As other family members had gone their separate directions that night, I found myself charged with caring for my youngest grandson for a short while.

We began the evening by checking out the aerodynamics of flight as we sailed bright yellow paper airplanes across the yard. Tiring of that, my grandson decided it was time to get a tiny dump truck and tractor and begin playing in the dirt of the nearby window box. This was good dirt. It was dry, fine and almost powder-like in substance. God dirt, you understand!

And just how do I know it was “good,” dirt? It was a result of the wisdom of my grandson! As I sat next to the dog, watching the scenes of evening, the 3-year-old was frequently talking to himself. On one occasion I heard him say softly to himself “Dirt, dirt, dirt—I like dirt!”

I smiled as I watched him, realizing anew that all little boys seem to like dirt! They run their hands through it. They roll in it. They throw it into the air above them and get it in their hair. They throw dirt at each other. And I am sure they even taste a bit of it more often than a mother would desire to know!

My grandson did not simply talk to himself about dirt. As I eavesdropped on the conversation he was having with himself he suddenly paused, looked up at me, and asked, “Are you watching me, Poppa Bill?”

I assured him that I was, but his question reminds me that sometimes we would like to say to our Heavenly Father, “Lord, are you watching me?” It may come at a point of loneliness, despair, or at a time when we feel the harshness of life has knocked us into the dust and dirt of the earth. We wonder, “Is God aware of what I’m going through? Does He really know?’ Listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned…Free yourself from the chains on your neck…He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart…” (Isaiah 52:2, 40:11)

Yes, your Heavenly Father is watching over you! Blessings to each of you in Christ’s name.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the renewed realization that You really do know what I am going through. You do understand and You do care. Thank You, Father, for traveling through life with me every step of the way. 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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We could not get our foot in the door of Heaven if it were not for the shed blood of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

Pastor Bill

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The world spends millions of dollars attempting to gain something which Christ offers free of charge—peace and happiness!

Pastor Bill

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JUST A COINCIDENCE

A pastor related the following experience that is worth retelling:

“One of our daughters called, in the middle of a stormy winter evening, while far away from home, to tell us she and her husband needed help. It was serious—this situation they had found themselves in—the kind of situation where, as a parent, you find yourself feeling helpless and frustrated because of the miles that separate you from your child. What can you do?

“After a short discussion with our daughter, I asked her to hang up and give me a few minutes to work on the situation. My wife and I prayed, as I remember, and then I picked up the phone and called directory assistance. I asked for the phone number of a church I knew was located in that community.

“As the phone began ringing on that stormy, winter night, I wondered if anyone would even be at the church to respond to my call. That thought had no sooner gone through my mind when the phone was answered and I asked if the man who answered if he was the pastor. He replied that he wasn’t, but he had just happened to stop by the church for a moment to pick something up and he had heard the phone ringing and answered it. . . . . . Now, isn’t that a coincidence!

“I gave the man my name and told him I was calling about our daughter and her husband who had found themselves in their city and in serious need. In the next few moments this man, whom I had never met or spoken with before, assured me that he would see to it that our kids were taken care of. We were not to worry. If he could not locate the pastor he would handle everything himself. He would go to work on it the moment he got off the phone. And you know something? He did!

“In a time of need, I had learned I could count on a brother in Christ—a brother in Christ whom I didn’t even know personally. In other words, I knew I could count on Jesus Christ! Yes! And peace of heart and mind were mine!”

I like that brief account of a man and his wife who were at a hard place in life, taking time to pray before they reached for the phone. I like the fact that, by “coincidence” a Christian brother “just happened” to stop by the church on a stormy winter night when the phone began to ring. And though neither man knew each other, they were brothers—brothers in Christ. Among true Christian brothers and sisters in Christ there should be: no neglect, no snubbing, no avoiding, no ignoring, no sense of pride, no cliques, no separation, no sense of superiority, no sense of being better, no downgrading, nor any sense of super-spirituality.

Should we treat a brother or sister in Christ any different than our Lord would? No! Never! The nearer we come to Christ the nearer we come to each other. How close are you to your brother—your sister?

In The Message paraphrase of the Bible, Proverbs 18:24 says: Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.

I like that.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the Christian family we can all be part of where men and women who are believers in Jesus Christ are truly my brothers and my sisters. Thank You for such a rich blessing. Thank You for loving us so very much, Father. 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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