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Archive for February, 2011

“I trust in your purpose, Lord, for sending me into the unknown.” ~ (Observed on a poster on the wall of a church office.)

Pastor Bill

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But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. (Job 23:10).

Pastor Bill

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THE LION CAGE

I would imagine in looking back on that morning; our eyes must have been as big as saucers as my brother and I jumped out of the car and impatiently tried to hurry our Dad along. It seemed that we were just simply not going to be able to take in all the sights that we were already catching glimpses of.

Even though Dad was parking the car some distance up the street we could see that, along with the huge tent which all circuses must have, there were a number of smaller tents as well. And we could see several horses with fancy harnesses on them, being led around by some young boys. And there were elephants. Yes there were! They were tied to large steel spikes driven into the ground.

I don’t have time to tell you about all that I saw that day as Dad took us in and out of several of the smaller tents and we got to eat popcorn and cotton candy and ride a merry-go-round and I don’t remember what all. But finally, we found ourselves in the line for the main event—the big show! We were really going to get to sit under the big top! Really!

Later, as the afternoon sun beat down on the canvas high over our heads, the temperature began to rise inside that tent with all those people. There must have been several hundred of us, and we found ourselves sitting there with sweat running down our faces. But it was still exciting. There was a high-wire act, clowns, people standing on the backs of galloping horses as they went tearing around the ring. There were jugglers and all kinds of things going on. I mean to tell you it was enough to make your head swim. It was almost too much for two young boys to take in all at once.

And the most exciting part I remember was when Clyde Beatty himself, mind you, came out into the ring and got inside a huge cage with a bunch of lions. For several minutes we watched as he snapped and cracked a long whip back and forth and got those lions to stand up on their back legs, lie down and roll over, and finally jump through hoops of fire and a multitude of other tricks. It was really something.

Speaking of lions, I am sure you remember a story from the Bible that had some lions in it, right? In the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament, is where we find a story many of us can recall. There were a bunch of men who did not like Daniel and they were trying to get him into trouble. In fact, they wanted to get rid of him because the king had come to like him and was giving him all kinds of good positions in the kingdom that some of these other characters wanted to have. They did not like it. So they tricked the king into making a law they knew Daniel would break. They had the King sign a law that said the people could not pray to anyone except the King. They were not to be allowed to pray to God. Were they ever asking for trouble—kind of like barking up the wrong tree!

Well, we remember what Daniel did. Knowing the law was a foolish one, and knowing the trickery that must have been used to get the king to sign it, he went home and began praying. Some of those guys that were after him caught him at it and took Daniel before the king. Though the king hated to do it, because he liked Daniel so much, he had signed his name on that law and he felt like he had to punish Daniel or he would be in trouble with his people. Let’s read from the Bible translation, The Message, what happened as we find it in Daniel 6:16-23: The king caved in and ordered Daniel brought and thrown into the lions’ den. But he said to Daniel, "Your God, to whom you are so loyal, is going to get you out of this."

A stone slab was placed over the opening of the den. The king sealed the cover with his signet ring and the signet rings of all his nobles, fixing Daniel’s fate. The king then went back to his palace. He refused supper. He couldn’t sleep. He spent the night fasting.

At daybreak the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. As he approached the den, he called out anxiously, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve so loyally, saved you from the lions?"

"O king, live forever!" said Daniel. "My God sent his angel, who closed the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. I’ve been found innocent before God and also before you, O king. I’ve done nothing to harm you."

When the king heard these words, he was happy. He ordered Daniel taken up out of the den. When he was hauled up, there wasn’t a scratch on him. He had trusted his God.

Daniel, even though he realized that he was in danger, showed his trust in God by continuing to pray to him each day. Daniel had already gone through quite a few experiences in his life where he had learned that he could truly trust his God. And he had the very same God that you and I can call our own.

The God in Heaven is that One who kept the lion’s mouths closed and kept them from harming Daniel in any way. That same God is the one we can trust—you can trust—to watch over you and protect you every single moment of every day. Sure we can! He will do that for us! . . . . . He does that for us when we have asked Him to forgive us of our sins and we have invited Him into our hearts. When we ask God to do that—He will! Yes, He surely will!

Well, at that circus that afternoon, Clyde Beatty stepped into the lion’s cage of his own free will. But he carried a long whip with him and those lions had learned to respect its snap and its crack. Sometimes we might feel as if we have been thrown into the lion’s cage but we have far more protection than Clyde Beatty did. We have the very same protection Daniel did! We have the same God Daniel had, protecting us when we are going through times when we may experience danger, fear or difficult times. We can learn to trust in God as Daniel did. Do you trust God, today? I pray that you do. . . . . . . . . You can. . . . . . . You can trust Him!

Prayer: Father, thank you for the reality of the truth that we can trust you! We can place our faith in you without any reservations. We can travel through life walking hand-in-hand with you, knowing that you will never leave us nor will you ever forsake us. Yes! We can trust you! Thank you, 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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God is doing something significant in our lives, even through the seemingly negative times we pass through.

Pastor Bill

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BETTER THAN CHRISTMAS!

We had been driving on pavement for some time and it was really nice to be off the gravel road with its thick dust and many bumps. The smooth highway we are now traveling on allowed Dad to drive a little faster, and he made my brother and I keep our heads and arms in the windows. Boy, that breeze felt good as the day continued to warm up. It looked like this was going to be one warm day.

We were still making regular comments like, "C’mon, Dad. Where are we goin’? Please tell us!"

Our Dad would not budge. He slowed the old car down as we entered town, which was the county seat in the rural area in which we lived, and it seemed to my brother and me as if it was just taking us forever to get where we were going. Dad continued to drive through town and then turned off the main street heading for what we realized was the city park. “Hey, all right! He was taking us to the park!”

Why, let me tell you now, they had swings and teeter-totters and a big fountain with a pond and things like that which every kid enjoyed. But what about a lunch? We hadn’t brought a lunch like we usually did when we got to go to the city park. What was going on, anyway?

In a few minutes we saw the park ahead and we began bouncing up and down on the seat, impatient to get out of the car and get beneath the shade of the tall trees which were spread out all over this park. But Dad didn’t slow down. He kept right on going—driving right past the park.

By now we had stopped bouncing up and down and started asking him again where we were going. He finally said, "We’re almost there. Settle down."

Say, now. We had sure heard that response from him a lot in the last hour!

We began to stare out the windshield ahead of us, straining to see what might be ahead that Dad would be taking us to see. In a few moments we were nearing the edge of town where it opened up into an area of flat farmland next to the county fairgrounds. Suddenly we realized that there were a lot of cars parked along the roadway up ahead of us. And there were people milling about all over the place! What was going on?

And then we saw something we had seen only in pictures in magazines and heard about on the radio. It was huge! It was enormous! We had never seen anything as big as that! And right out in front of it was an enormous sign, brightly painted, which said, "THE CLYDE BEATTY CIRCUS!"

That’s right. We were looking at a huge circus tent. The circus had come to town!

Oh, man, let me tell you . . . . . my brother and I were just about to have a fit! We could not believe that we were actually getting a chance to see a real live honest-to-goodness circus! This was better than Christmas! I would imagine that my brother and I must have been two of the most excited kids in the county that morning. Sure!

There are accounts in the Bible about people who were excited, and in most of those occasions it appears they were adults. In Mark 7, beginning at verse 31 as it reads in The Message, Jesus has had a fellow brought to him who has led a tough life. Look what happens: Some people brought a man who could neither hear nor speak and asked Jesus to lay a healing hand on him. He took the man off by himself, put his fingers in the man’s ears and some spit on the man’s tongue. Then Jesus looked up in prayer, groaned mightily, and commanded, "Ephphatha!—Open up!" And it happened. The man’s hearing was clear and his speech plain—just like that.

Jesus urged them to keep it quiet, but they talked it up all the more, beside themselves with excitement. "He’s done it all and done it well. He gives hearing to the deaf, speech to the speechless."

Interesting, huh? The people who witnessed this man’s healing were “beside themselves with excitement.” Probably like two little boys who were about to go to a real circus for the first time in their lives. Yet, there is nothing quite as life-changing as when you and I experience the touch of the Master’s hand in our lives. Maybe we should get a bit more excited than we typically do, when that happens.

Prayer: Father, I yearn to experience the excitement that those folks in New Testament times felt when they witnessed Jesus at work in the lives of so many. Would you help me to be so “in tune” with my Heavenly Father that when you are at work in my life—I know it—and get excited! Thank you, 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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No worry is too petty to bring to Him; no problem too big.

Pastor Bill

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Expect to sacrifice if you expect blessings.

Pastor Bill

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ALMOST THERE

I was probably 8-9 years old when my Dad took my younger brother and I on what we thought was one of the most exciting trips of our whole life. Now you must remember that we lived in a tiny little country town of maybe 100 people—that’s when all the houses were filled up. That included adults, teens, children, babies and maybe even a few dogs and cats. In fact, I don’t know who decided that there were a hundred people in town. It was not marked on the sign that announced the name of the small community as you drove in on the dusty, gravel highway. Yes, they did call it a highway. But, I’m getting away from my story.

Anyway, my Dad announced to my younger brother and I that he was taking us to the city—at least it was a city to us. And it was the county seat. And since it was the county seat it had a county fairground. And Dad said he was going to take us to see something we had never seen before in our lives, and we were going to like it!

Well, let me tell you, he had my brother and me in a real dither. We were so excited we could hardly stand it till Dad said it was time to go and we were finally allowed to get in the car. We kept asking him what he was taking us to see but he would not tell us. He just kept saying things like, "Settle down, now. We’ll be there before too long. Then you’ll see."

"Settle down," he says! How could two young boys settle down who were on their way to the county seat to see a sight that was obviously something we were going to enjoy………….. and our Dad would not tell us what it was? "Settle down?" Oh, sure! I’ll tell you, my brother and I were just in fits by the time we were finally out on the highway, and headed toward the “city.”

The old Chevrolet just could not go down that gravel road fast enough for us. And it seemed like there was more traffic on the road that day than there had been in ages. Each time we met a car, a logging truck or some farm truck, Dad would slow down and make us roll up the windows so we would not get quite so much dust inside our car as we passed. By the time we came out on the other side of the dust cloud the summer heat was raising the temperature inside at what seemed to us to be an incredible rate of speed!

The moment Dad would tell us we could put the windows down we would each get to cranking on a window, immediately poking our heads out into the cool wind, which felt so good on our faces. We would hang our heads out the window, tears streaming back as a result of the blast of 45 mph wind hitting us, and hoping no bugs would get in our eyes or mouths.

If my brother and I had been able to have our way, we would have been standing on the running boards of our old 1937 Chevrolet, enjoying the breeze blowing all over us! . . . . Speaking of running boards, I mentioned them to a grandson, one day some time back, and he asked me what a running board was. I guess I am getting old, huh?

It seemed like it took forever before we finally crossed over the mountain and drove across several miles of rolling farmland and finally saw the rooftops of the buildings in the town ahead, sticking up above some of the hilltops. Oh, but we were impatient. But we were almost there!

There are quite a number of places in the Bible where we read about folks who were impatient. One of those places is in the Old Testament in the Book of Numbers 21:4-5. The Nation of Israel had been released from their slavery in Egypt and were on their way to the land God had promised to give them. But look at what we read: Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!”

Oh, boy! Not only were they becoming impatient, but they were now complaining against God! We would never do that, right? We would never become impatient with our Creator, the God of heaven and earth. I suppose it never hurts us to remember that “…… since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! (Isaiah 64:4)

Prayer: Father, forgive us for the occasions when we may have become impatient with you and wondered why you were taking so long to answer our prayers. Give us the patience necessary for this day I am traveling through. Thank you, Father. 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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The Bible does not try to prove that God exists. Rather, His reality is assumed.   (Dr. Mendell Taylor)

Pastor Bill

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I am still remembering kitchens—for one more day. The kitchen I remember better than any other as I was growing up was the one in our own home. My parents had purchased the home just about the time I was born and they lived there till well after I had grown up, married, and gone my own way. So I knew that kitchen well. Let me tell you about some of the memories I have of that kitchen.

The two largest items in the kitchen included an old General Electric refrigerator. I have to tell you, I don’t think Maytag had anything over on GE during those days. That old white refrigerator grew up with me and was still going strong years after I left.

On another side of the room was a wood kitchen stove or “kitchen range, as we sometimes called it. It was a classy one painted black and white on the outside. It had a huge oven with a thermometer on the door and it had a warming shelf above the flat top of the stove at the back. On one side of the stove was a 25 gallon boiler which we used to heat dishwater and bathwater.

You see, we didn’t have indoor plumbing. We had one of those things my one son-in-law (who is kind of a city slicker) thinks is so awfully disgusting. We had an outhouse! Whether it was midsummer or in the middle of a wild winter, you went outside to use the “facilities.” Therefore, we did not have a fancy white bathtub like a few of the modernistic type of folks in our little country town had. No, we still toughed it out, having to go outside to the restroom. It did have a light, though, which a lot of folks didn’t have.

So, like I said, we used the tub on the top of the stove in the kitchen to continually have hot water for washing dishes, taking baths, and for cleaning the dirt and grime off our hands before we sat down to eat. (That was a rule of my mother’s. She must have picked that up when she was raised in the city!)

Next to the back door we had a water pail with a wash pan next to it. And just like in the log cabin my folks lived in when they were first married, there was a long-handled dipper which hung on a nail on the wall back of the pail for everyone to use to drink water with. We just didn’t seem to be too concerned about contaminating each other in those days.

Up on top of a large cupboard was a crock pot, and not the electric kind we see today. This was a real “crock” pot that had a sourdough mix “working” in it. The small table on one side of the kitchen had a small radio setting on the edge. This was before television, and other than the news paper and word-of-mouth, this was where we got all the news and learned what was going on in the world. It was also the place we would gather around in the evenings listening to such grand programs as Fibber McGhee and Molly, etc.

The kitchen range had a blue metal stool that set next to it on one side. I wonder how many mornings during the cold winter months of the year, I came out of my bedroom, which was just off the kitchen, and sat on that stool to get warmed up as I put my shoes and socks on? In fact, that stool has a place in history in our family. I had many long discussions with my Dad in the early morning hours, often as he was preparing breakfast for our family. And my mother gave me a good dose of motherly advice and counsel as I sat on that blue stool warming up and making plans for the day ahead. It was while I was sitting on that stool that my Father suggested I should go ahead and marry Bonnie. He saw no need to wait several months as we had planned.

Many of the kitchens I remember were busy places while, at the same time, were places of contentment and peace. In Isaiah 32, beginning with verse 16, we find these words: “Justice will dwell in the desert and righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.”

There is no man, woman or child who does not yearn for a home filled with love, peace and security. Sadly, we may not all have had the privilege of enjoying that at times during our lives. But let me tell you something, when we reach Heaven we will be able to enjoy far more than we had ever dreamed of forever and forever and forever! I don’t know if there will be kitchens in heaven, but it won’t really matter. Heaven will truly be “home” for everyone who has Jesus in their hearts and lives. If you don’t know Him, He wants you to!

Prayer: Father, again we thank you for the memories we have about days when we were growing up and young. Thank you for the pleasant memories many of us have. Thank you for how you have blessed us. And help us to “make memories” for our own families in these busy times in which we live. 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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