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Archive for April, 2011

You cannot receive God’s forgiveness without giving forgiveness to others.

Pastor Bill

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LOCKED IN—AGAIN!

We were all tired after a week camping out on the Oregon Coast. It had been a good week and we had even enjoyed some pretty decent weather. But now we were looking forward to getting home. We had been driving about two hours and were on the outskirts of a small town near Portland when one of our two daughters announced, “Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom.”

Fortunately she had picked a pretty good time for her announcement and we began watching for a spot to pull into where there would be a restroom that could be used. I soon spotted a gas station up ahead and noted the two doors on the side of the building with signs announcing they were restrooms. I drove around the block and pulled up at the curb in front of the doors of this older station. It wasn’t the newest building around but it did look clean. My wife announced that she would go inside with our daughter and she asked me if I was going to get out, too. I told her I would wait until we found a drive-in restaurant, as we were planning on a quick lunch stop. As my wife left the car she said they would be “back in a minute.”

Okay, there was that phrase again, “back in a minute.” Ten to fifteen minutes later I was beginning to wonder just how long that “minute” was going to be. In another 5-10 minutes our son spoke up and said, “Dad, how much longer are they going to be?”

I informed him I didn’t know but I thought they would be out any moment. A few minutes later I was beginning to hear frustrating sighs from the back seat and our oldest daughter spoke up, “Dad, I’m hungry! When are they going to come?”

Again I tried to assure them I was certain it wouldn’t be long but had to admit I was beginning to wonder why they were taking this long. It became quiet for a moment and suddenly I realized I was hearing my name called, as if someone were yelling for me from a long ways off. I sat up a little straighter and turned my head to the side, trying to determine where the voice was calling my name from. I looked towards the restroom door and thought, “Oh, boy! Now what? No! Not again!”

I got out of the car and headed towards the restroom door and realized I could now hear my wife yelling my name more clearly. I stopped at the door, knocked on it and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“We’re locked in!” my wife yelled back. I tried the doorknob several times and it wouldn’t budge. And she could not get it unlocked from inside. Moments later I was returning with the manager and his keys to free the girls from their forced imprisonment.

This made me think of the numerous occasions in the Bible where folks were locked up in sin, as it were. In fact, there are multitudes of people around us in the same fix; friends, neighbors and family members. Yet, there is an answer, such as that found in Psalm 107:10, where it is recorded in the paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, in this way: “Some of you were locked in a dark cell, cruelly confined behind bars, Punished for defying God’s Word, for turning your back on the High God’s counsel— A hard sentence, and your hearts so heavy, and not a soul in sight to help. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time. He led you out of your dark, dark cell, broke open the jail and led you out. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves; He shattered the heavy jailhouse doors, he snapped the prison bars like matchsticks!”

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for unlocking the “cell” of my life and freeing me through the gift of your mercy and love. Yes, thank you for the gift of salvation you offer to each of us. 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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The one who will not forgive is forgetting that he or she is burning a bridge over which they too, must pass.

Pastor Bill

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LOCKED IN

So far it had not been one of those vacations that seemed to stand out for any reason. Oh, it had been a nice week, so far, but the Oregon Coast had maintained its reputation for frequent rain showers and wind, along with a few really nice days. My wife and I had been working hard to crowd as many activities into the few days we had as we possibly could. We wanted our three kids to have a good time and we were hoping it would be enjoyable for us, as well. Our little tent trailer was doing a good job of keeping us dry and my wife was doing an outstanding job of cooking for us over an open fire. She was a real trooper, in that regard.

One evening we left the state park we were camped out in and headed for town, several miles away, to do some sightseeing and to pick up a few groceries. We were just leaving town, headed back to camp, when our young son, probably 7 or 8 years old at the time, suddenly spoke up: “Dad, I have to go to the bathroom.”

I asked him if he couldn’t wait, and he assured me he could not. He needed to find a bathroom, and quick. My wife spoke up and suggested I pull into the parking lot of a laundromat at the edge of town that we had used earlier in the week to clean and dry some clothes. A moment later we pulled into the parking lot, and our son bounded out of the car and ran for the door, assuring us he would be “back in a minute.”

It was probably a good 15 minutes later when I looked at my wife and asked, “Where in the world is that kid? He is sure taking his time!”

In another 10 to 15 minutes I was starting to get more than just a little impatient with our son. What was he doing? Did he find a good magazine to read, or what?

As the half hour mark came and went, even our two girls were getting frustrated with their brother. We were parked where we could see in the entire interior of the laundromat, including the door to the restroom. It remained closed. I was beginning to wonder if maybe it was time for me to go inside and tell our wayward son we were hoping to get back to camp before too late, when I noticed a man in the laundromat staring towards the restroom door. He stood looking at the door for a time and then began to walk slowly towards it, stopping directly in front of the door. Then he looked around, back towards the door, and then back around inside the laundromat.

By this time my wife and I were watching what was taking place, while wondering just what this guy was doing. Suddenly the man reached for the door knob of the restroom and began trying to open it. He twisted and turned it a few times and then pulled on the door—hard! All of a sudden the door swung open and our son stumbled out, an agonizing look on his face. As we watched he turned and headed straight for the door of the laundromat, pushed it open and ran towards our car. As he came close we could see the tear streaks down his cheeks. It turned out the lock had been stuck on the door and he couldn’t get out. He had finally begun kicking the door and yelling. That was when the fellow in the laundromat had let him out.

Well, it turned out we did have reason to remember the vacation trip we took that summer!

In Jonah 2:6-7, we find this man who had been swallowed by the whale saying, “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! . . . . . . I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you . . . . . For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”

I doubt that our young son felt as if he had been snatched from the jaws of death, but he apparently felt imprisoned in a restroom with a door he could not open. Jonah realized it was time to pray, when he found himself in trouble, and that is not a bad thing for all of us to remember. Our salvation does come from the Lord alone.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for always being close at hand, whether it is in the good times of life or the most difficult. Thank you for coming to our rescue when we call. Thank you for the gift of salvation you offer to each of us. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for opening the door to real life when we come to you. 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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“I can forgive but I cannot forget,” is just another way of saying, “I cannot forgive.”

Pastor Bill

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Seek forgiveness immediately, when you’ve “blown it.” Don’t wait until tomorrow.

Pastor Bill

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HAVE YOU SEEN JESUS?

I was standing in a dimly lit room near the back of our church, after the close of a religious drama production in which I had held a part. I had been cast as one of the twelve disciples and was wearing the appropriate dress for that role. A young woman, accompanied by a small boy who appeared to be about three or four years old, came into the room and walked towards a door on the opposite wall. As they began to walk past me, the boy suddenly tugged at his Mother’s hand and pulled her aside, walking over to where I was standing.

"Hey Mister!" he said, looking up at me, "Have you seen Jesus?"

I realized he was looking for the man who had played the part of Jesus and I pointed towards another doorway and said, "I believe he is in the next room. You might go look."

As the youngster and his Mother walked away the impact of his question began to sink in . . . . . "Have you seen Jesus?"

Easter is one of those times each year when even those who may have little involvement with church and/or religion tend to consider the possibility that it might be a good idea to attend a church service somewhere.

I have a relative who never attends church who concedes that some of the things which have touched his life and that of his family must be a result of action on the part of "the Man upstairs."

I do not recall having ever heard this relative refer to this "Man upstairs," as God, or Jesus, but it goes without question that this is certainly what he means. If I were to ask him, "Have you seen Jesus?" I am fearful he would say he had not.

Far too many people go through life giving absolutely no consideration to a Living God except when they find themselves in a crisis or a time of great need. When they discover themselves at a point in life where the skills and abilities of we humans are no longer of value that is when many people find themselves forced to look outside and beyond themselves. They find they must ask someone, maybe a friend or a relative, the question, "Have you seen Jesus?"

At Easter, many are fortunate in that they can look back on their lives and say they "found" Jesus early in life. They realize, with hearts full of thanksgiving and gratitude, what it has been like to walk through the twisted and often tortuous paths of life with Jesus Christ active and alive within their very own hearts.

There are others who came to know Jesus Christ later in life and who have experienced the weight of heavy burdens removed from the heart and soul. They have turned their lives over to a Living God, giving Him control, and experiencing the reality of the peace that comes when He walks with them every step of the way through life.

But others are still looking for Jesus. They are still searching. Maybe, just maybe, you are one of those who is searching and yearning to know this Jesus. Can I suggest that He is closer than you think and if you truly desire to find Him, you can! He reminds us, in the Gospel of John, in verse 10, that he came to earth almost 2000 years ago for but one purpose: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Have you seen Jesus?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for providing each of us with the gift of real life, if we will only ask you for it. Thank you for the promise that we can have life—real life—and live it to the fullest. Thank you for the gift of your Son on the cross for me. In the Name of Jesus 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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