Archive for February, 2012


I stepped back away from the tight circle of boys crowded around the stove, all of them trying to get the first bit of warmth that everyone hoped would soon be radiating out from the still cold metal sides of the barrel. I stepped over to the bunk I had chosen and grabbed my sleeping bag. I was going to start making this place look a little homier while it warmed up in here! I was untying the straps on my bag when someone piped up with, “Uh, I think we may have a problem, Mr. Firemaker!”

That remark was quickly followed by “Whoee! Somethin’s wrong here!”

I turned toward the stove and realized there was a fair amount of smoke circling slowly into the rafters above it. Hey! The smoke should have been going up the stovepipe! As I moved over towards the stove the other boys were all starting to move back, some of them making loud and exaggerated coughs to emphasize their obvious discomfort at trying to breathe. That cedar and pine was making some pretty good smoke. Yet, it didn’t look all that bad to me. Well, on second thought, where was all that smoke coming from?

As I looked at the door I realized that smoke was streaming out of every seam and crack in the old barrel from which the stove had been constructed. In fact, smoke was coming out all around the door in front and from each of a dozen or so places in the chimney. Without giving it any thought, I grabbed hold the door handle and pulled it open to take a look—as if that would help! It didn’t! A dense cloud of smoke blew out into the cabin and I let go the handle of the door and jumped back, ducking my head in an effort to stay out of the cloud. Wow! Hey! What’s was going on here? I tried getting back to the stove to close the door but the smoke was really pouring out into the room in that brief time and I ended up kicking the door closed with my foot.

My eyes were beginning to water as someone opened the door, yelling as they went, “Let’s get outa’ here! He’s trying to burn the place down!”

“Oh, what’s was the matter with you guys? Why don’t you go climb a tree, or something!” I hollered as the last of the boys went through the door into the cold night air. A little smoke never hurt anybody! It’s not anything to get all this excited over!

There is nothing quite like putting a group of young people together if you want some fun and excitement. But I am not sure there is anything wrong with older folks getting a little excited at times, either. In Luke 19 we can read the story about Zacchaeus, that so many children hear about when they are young. But as I read a portion of the account once again, two words jumped out at me. Look at what we see in these verses: When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.

I suppose some might say that the whiners and complainers in the crowd were putting up a real smokescreen of grumbling. Of all the people Jesus might have gone to have dinner with, why would he have picked Zacchaeus? And that little guy no doubt wondered the same thing, but at the same time he was one excited fellow. I think it is neat that Zacchaeus was apparently filled with “great excitement and joy,” in spite of the “smoke.”

Walking through life with Jesus is a good reason for each of us to experience great excitement and joy—in spite of those around us who are the naysayers when it comes to anything of a religious nature. If they only knew what they were missing. Maybe, just maybe, they will begin to yearn for what they see in us if we continue to live our lives as Jesus wants us to.

Prayer: Lord, once again I want to tell you that I want my life to count for you—always! Thank you for allowing me to experience the excitement and joy of your willingness to walk through life with me. Help me to live in such a way that those around me, who don’t know you, will want to know 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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Don’t allow criticism from others, or the fear of criticism, keep you from doing what you know to be the will of God.

Pastor Bill

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The ways of God often run “cross-grain” to the ways of the world. Don’t be surprised by that.

Pastor Bill

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In spite of all the “smart-alecky” remarks I managed to get several pieces of wood split up and even made some acceptable pieces of kindling from a dry piece of cedar I discovered near the bottom of the wood box. I found a stack of old newspapers and Boy’s Life magazines and soon had a layer of crumpled up paper in the bottom of the stove. I placed the cedar kindling on top of that, followed by some larger pieces of the freshly split wood. I removed a wooden match from my waterproof match case and struck it on the side of the stove. Moments later the paper was burning rapidly and I closed the door to the stove as the wood began to burn with the appropriate and satisfying sound of cracks and pops.

“Hey guys,” I shouted, “it will be warm as toast in here in a few minutes.”

With those words the fellows in the cabin crowded up around the stove, hoping to feel the warmth of the heat I had promised. It was just a bit too soon, though.

The word “fire” is used many times throughout the Bible. You can read about people being burned by it, cooking over it, and being warmed by fire. In Luke 3:7-9, as related in The Message, there is a portion of the account told of John the Baptist at the Jordan River. A lot of folks, many of them “churchy” type people, wanted John to baptize them. Listen to what is said in these verses from Luke. . . . . . When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: "Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life that must change, not your skin. And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as ‘father.’ Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there—children of Abraham are a dime a dozen. God can make children from stones if he wants. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire."

John was pretty blunt. Deadwood went into the fire—to be burned. Lives that had been changed and transformed by Jesus were vibrant, alive and blossoming. Such lives count in the eyes of Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, I want my life to count for you—always! Please give me the wisdom to live a life that is always above reproach in the eyes of God. Help me to live a life where I can always be transparent in your sight. Help me to always be “real” with 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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If you find yourself consistently becoming critical of others and their actions, it is time to stop and take a good hard look at yourself. Mercy is a far better character trait to be known by!

Pastor Bill

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I pulled a small chunk of wood out of the box next to the stove and set it upright on the floor in front of me. I stepped back, wishing the light were just a little bit better than what the two 60 watt bulbs hanging from the rafters were putting out. I told the other fellows to step back and stay out of my way. This was important business, you understand.

I moved back a bit and made a few practice swings towards the piece of wood with the hatchet. Then, I took careful aim, lifted the hatchet up high over my head, and swung it rapidly towards the wood. Bang, thump! . . . . . Oops!

“Hey! You’re getting a little wild there, aren’t you?” someone yelled at me.

Instead of striking the piece of wood on the end, as I had planned, I had kind of sideswiped it. The piece of wood flew to the left and slammed hard into the metal side of the stove, making a terrible racket. At the same time the hatchet had continued its downward arc and plunged into the wood floor.

“The light in this place is terrible,” I replied. “Give me a minute and I will get it down right.”

“O sure, blame it on the light,” someone hollered. “Maybe we should all get around you in a circle and hold our flashlights for you!”

Then someone else joined in, yelling out, “Maybe you ought to get out the direction book on that hatchet and see how you’re supposed to use it!”

“If you guys want a fire made you better pipe down!” I responded, levering the hatchet back and forth to free it from the grips of the wood floor that held it. I was quickly reaching the place where I wondered if I shouldn’t go out and camp under a tree for the night and leave these guys to take care of themselves!

All of us have experienced the sting of malicious criticism at some point in our lives. We never enjoy it. It hurts. It always seems to get us stirred up. We could always do without it.

In the New Testament Book of Matthew, in chapter 7 verses 1-3, there are some good comments about criticism. This is how it looks as written in the paraphrase of the Bible, The Message: "Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Wow! That seems pretty plain and to the point, doesn’t it? And it is very good advice for you and me to adhere to. Sure, it is!

Prayer: Lord, help me to be careful whenever it comes to this matter of criticism. Don’t allow me to be a person who becomes known as one with a critical spirit. Help me to be a person known for their grace, compassion, understanding and love for those around me. And when I am the one receiving criticism, help me accept it in a Christlike manner. 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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If you walk through life hand in hand with Jesus, no matter what happens, it has purpose.

Pastor Bill

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