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Archive for January, 2012

STARS

It seemed to take only a matter of moments for our Scout troop to get safely across the swaying footbridge and onto solid ground on the other side of the river. Our scoutmaster looked over his should several times to make certain each of us had made it safely. We then followed him as he led off into the darkness, following a narrow trail in the deep snow. Within a short time most of us were huffing and puffing beneath the heavy packs we carried on our backs. As I looked forward over the shoulders of the fellow in front of me, I could see streams of vapor ascending into the cold, dark night air as we exhaled. Hey! It might be cold but this was going to be fun!

Conversation slowed as we trudged along the snowy trail, our boots squeaking appropriately in the cold snow that was a good two feet deep around us. I glanced up into the dark sky and, even as a young boy, marveled at the sight. All around us the dark, tree-covered mountains framed a moonless sky that was filled with a mass of stars. What a sight to witness!

On numerous occasions during my lifetime I have stood in awe beneath a night sky, literally amazed at the beauty and incomprehensible size of God’s creation. To glimpse even a small portion of such a sight, while trying to understand the reality of the fact the God loves me, causes me to shake my head in wonder. I think the writer of Psalms may have felt that way at times. In chapter 8 he wrote: “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”

You know something? He does care for us! Sure, He does!

If you have not been out on a cloudless night, far from man-made light, to view God’s creation first-hand…..do it soon! You will be glad you did.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the beauty of this world in which we live. Thank you for the exquisite splendor and magnificence of your creation that goes beyond anything humans could ever fabricate. Thank you, Lord, for this gift you have given us. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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If your confidence is in your personality or in your worth, you’re not going to make it. If your confidence is in God, you will!

Pastor Bill

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Dreams never die, just the dreamer. Songs never die, just the singer. Don’t allow a few negative people to control your dreams and your joy!

Pastor Bill

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People choose to invite Jesus into their lives as a result of the example and influence of another life being lived for Christ. Be that example and influence!

Pastor Bill

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INSTRUCTIONS

Just as the line of chattering Boy Scouts reached the end of the narrow footbridge that stretched precariously over the swift-flowing river, our scoutmaster raised his arm into the air and turned towards us, signaling that we were to stop. Several of the boys who were talking and not paying attention ran into each other as the line finally bounced to a stop amid comments like “Hey! What’s goin’ on?”

“Listen up, men!” the scoutmaster shouted at us.

I peered ahead through the darkness, trying to see what was taking place up front from my spot near the end of the line of boys. Our breath was making small clouds in front of each of us as we exhaled into the frigid winter air. The darkness of the night seemed to make the air feel even colder as some of the boys stamped their feet and pulled their coats tighter around their necks. A speck or two of light could be seen flickering through the windows of a cabin located across the river and in the trees. Hopefully someone had a good fire going to help us get warmed up.

“Hey! Quiet down and listen up,” the scoutmaster yelled out as most of the boys finally quit talking and strained to listen.

“Okay, men, here’s the deal,” he said, and for the next few minutes we listened to his instructions about what we were to do and not to do as we walked over the long, narrow and sagging foot bridge that spanned the dark, cold waters of the river flowing past in front of us. There was to be no shoving, bouncing or horsing around. We were to walk slowly and carefully and be sure we gripped the steel cables that served as handrails very tightly.

The Bible certainly holds within its pages numerous warnings, but also a multitude of instruction—instructions that, when followed, bring life! In the Old Testament Book of Isaiah the prophet gave many warnings to a nation that had turned its back on God. But he also gave instructions that would reap rewards for those who followed them. In Isaiah chapter 28 the prophet said, “Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention. Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds—. . . . . each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding. . . . . .The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom.” (Isaiah 28:23-26, 29, NLT)

It intrigues me that Isaiah used those words “listen, and pay close attention.” He obviously wanted them to “listen up” to the message he had for them. But I like the way he ends as he tells them the Lord is a “wonderful teacher, and he gives ….. great wisdom.”

You know something? He still does!

Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving us the Bible—your Word—that is filled with instructions for us. And they are truly life-giving instructions. Help me, when confronted with difficult challenges and situations in life, to go to the Bible and seek your direction. Thank you for being faithful. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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We don’t win the world to Christ by force or multiplied words.

Pastor Bill

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Do you spread peace and goodwill as you go throughout your day? If you do, you will find that your actions and their positive results will return to you in even greater measure!

Pastor Bill

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WARNINGS

We had been driving slowly through the snow-covered countryside for about 20 minutes when my mother began to decrease the speed of our old Chevy. She wanted to have plenty of time to slow down on the slick roadway she was driving on, I am guessing, before she had to turn onto the road ahead. We bounced a little as we crossed over a bridge that spanned the Palouse River, coursing slowly along in the cold darkness below us, and then we saw it in the car lights ahead of us—the sign! Yep, there was the sign pointing to Camp Grizzly. That’s where we were headed and boy, oh boy, oh boy! Were we ever going to have a time!

The other fellows and I could hardly stand it as my mother made the turn slowly and we began to follow the bumpy, gravel road with the tall pine and fir trees standing like sentinels on each side. The moon had now disappeared from view as we moved along beneath the shadow of the trees and my mother hunched forward over the steering wheel as if it might help her see further into the blackness ahead of us. This road, too, was covered in a good layer of snow and there was probably close to two feet of the white stuff covering the meadows alongside the river.

It seemed like a long stretch of time, and yet it was probably only a matter of minutes, before we saw another road angling off to the right. Someone had nailed a large wooden arrow to the trunk of a tall yellow pine tree by the road. On the arrow were the words “Camp Grizzly.” By this time we boys could hardly contain ourselves. My mother probably told us more than once to quiet down but, hey, maybe she just didn’t understand!

Within a matter of a minute or two Mom brought the car to a stop in a large parking area next to the river. As soon as the car had stopped boys were spewing out of the doors like it was on fire. Yippee! We were at Camp Grizzly! Several other cars were already parked and we could see our scoutmaster coming towards us across a foot bridge that hung over the river. A larger bridge for vehicles had been washed away several years earlier in a spring flood. Now the only way to get to the camp, throughout most of the year, was to walk across the narrow foot bridge and carry your gear on your back.

Oh, boy. Now the work was going to begin. We unloaded our things from the car; items like sleeping bags, food, cooking utensils, extra clothing and all kinds of things only a boy would take on a winter outing like this. Our scoutmaster slipped and slid down off the footbridge and we crowded around him as he gave us instructions. He told us where we would be going once we crossed the river, and then he told us to be sure and hang onto the steel cables that were the handrails for the bridge. He reminded us, several times, that the bridge was very slick with snow and ice and he didn’t want anyone slipping off and going into the river on a dark night like this. I wouldn’t have wanted to go off the bridge and into the river in daylight! But, that’s beside the point. Anyway, with the appropriate warnings we hefted our gear onto our backs and shoulders and moved towards the bridge.

Warnings should normally be heeded. In the New Testament, in 2 Peter 3:17-18, we find these words: “I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends. Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Our scoutmaster had good reasons for warning us about the need to walk carefully on that bridge and to hang on to those handrails—firmly. God’s Word is filled with warnings that, when obeyed, will result in lives saved. Your own as well as others who choose to follow the ways of God.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be careful to heed the warnings you have provided humankind throughout the Bible. And thank you for such clear instructions you have given us for living life. Yes, help me Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

 

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Christ does not want his church to go into the world and force its way and will on nonbelievers. God wants to rule in the hearts of men and women by love—not force!

Pastor Bill

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WINTER CAMPOUT

This was going to be a blast! Yes! Yes! Yes! This was going to be the kind of weekend that makes life worth living, let me tell you! Especially for a group of young boys.

I and several other young boys from our Scout troop were packed into our folks old 1949 Chevrolet, along with all of the gear a young man might possibly need when going on a winter campout. My mother, who was driving us east of town to the nearby Scout camp, was driving a little too slow for us. She claimed it was because the highway was covered with hard-packed snow that was really slick. Yet, we could see no reason she could not have increased her speed a little more. There were hardly any other cars out on this winter night, anyway. We were liable to be the last car load of boys to reach camp, at this rate!

The night was a cold one in mid-January. We were watching through the car’s windshield as a large, round moon crept up over the mountains to the east in the direction we were traveling. That big moon was beginning to light up the snow-covered fields around us, almost as if it were in the daytime. I had to admit that it was nice to be in a warm car with a good heater. It looked really cold outside!

The further we traveled the more impatient we boys became. Several times my mother told us to keep the noise down a little bit, as we were distracting her from her driving. Each time we obeyed, becoming quiet—for a brief time—before the excitement of the adventure that awaited us got the best of us. Once again we would begin to talk excitedly about all the things we were soon going to be doing. We were going to be going hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, sliding around on the frozen surface of the nearby Palouse River, and probably even building an igloo or snow cave to climb into. Man-oh-man! Are we ever going to get there?

In the Old Testament Book of Numbers there is an account about the nation of Israel that includes these words: “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.” (Numbers 21:4-5)

There are numerous accounts throughout the Bible that involve people who are impatient. Not unlike the world we live in today, is it? We seem to get impatient so easily. We want things done quickly and in the least amount of time possible. Yet, I am reminded of Psalm 40:1, which says: “I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.”

That is a good verse for all of us to keep in mind.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the many occasions when I become so impatient with people I have contact with each day. It may be a clerk in a store or someone who has put me on “hold” that I have called on the phone. It may even be a family member who is not responding to me as quickly as I might have hoped. Lord, forgive me for those occasions when I have even become impatient with you. Remind me of verses like the one in Psalms. Help me be more patient with everyone, Lord, including you. Yes, help me Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

 

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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